El Salvador daily sues NSO group over espionage
El Faro journalists and administrative staff sue the Israeli company, accusing them of espionage.
El Faro, a Salvadorian digital newspaper, filed a lawsuit in a US federal court on Wednesday against Israeli spyware company NSO Group, accusing the company that its flagship product Pegasus software was used to spy on the daily.
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The lawsuit was filed in California by 13 El Faro journalists and 2 administrative staff, and it is represented by lawyers from the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University.
Pegasus compromised the communications and data of at least 22 people associated with El Faro, including the plaintiffs, according to the complaint which was made public by the Knight Institute.
"Their devices were accessed remotely and surreptitiously, their communications and activities monitored, and their personal data accessed and stolen," the complaint said. "The attacks have compromised Plaintiffs' safety as well as the safety of their colleagues, sources, and family members."
According to the lawsuit, the espionage violated the US Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA).
The El Salvador government denies that it had a hand in surveilling El Faro staff.
"One of the main demands of this lawsuit is that the federal court require NSO Group to identify, return and delete all information obtained through these attacks," El Faro said.
"The court is also requested to prohibit NSO Group from re-executing Pegasus against the members of this media and that the same federal court issue an order against NSO Group so that it can disclose the client who was behind the espionage."
What is Pegasus? How does it function?
Pegasus has the capability to infect billions of phones running either iOS or Android operating systems, and to silently infiltrate your phone, take hold of your data, and turn your device into a 24/7 surveillance unit.
Read more: Rare screenshots depict Israeli NSO Group's Pegasus capabilities
It can copy all your messages, harvest your photos, and record your calls. It might even infiltrate your camera and microphone and secretly film you and eavesdrop on your conversations. It can also potentially pinpoint your location, anytime, anywhere.
For governments and spying agencies, the software is quite the dream come true, but for dissidents, journalists, and the general populace, Pegasus is a nightmare.
The mastermind behind this hacking software is none other than the Israeli firm NSO Group.