Israeli Pegasus spyware hacks relative of Rwandan dissident
Activists from the Pegasus Project and other media partners uncover these findings following prompt investigations and examinations of mobile devices.
The nephew of Hotel Rwanda dissident, Paul Rusesabagina, discovered he was hacked nearly a dozen times in 2020 using the Israeli-made spyware program, Pegasus.
These findings follow earlier revelations by various media activists as well as members of the Pegasus Project, an investigation into "Israel’s" NSO Group, that Rusesabagina’s daughter, Carine Kanimba, was under near-constant surveillance by a client of NSO Group from January to mid-2021 when the hacking attack was discovered by researchers at Amnesty International’s security lab.
'Hotel hero' of the Rwandan genocide
Paul Rusesabagina was made famous by the film "Hotel Rwanda", released in 2004, which tells how a moderate Hutu who managed the Hotel Mille Collines in Kigali saved more than 1,000 people during the 1994 genocide.
An opponent for more than 20 years to the Paul Kagame regime, whom he has accused of authoritarianism and fueling anti-Hutu sentiment, Rusesabagina has used his Hollywood fame to give a global echo to his views.
He had lived since 1996 in exile in the US and Belgium before being arrested in Kigali in August 2020 in troubled circumstances, when he got off a plane he thought was bound for Burundi.
His family denounced a "kidnapping" organized by the Rwandan authorities, saying that he had been lured by the promise of a job in Burundi.
Last April, the family demanded $400 million in compensation for the kidnapping and the torture of Rusesabagina.
Allegations in Thailand
Earlier today, it was reported that more than 30 Thai activists and their supporters have been targeted by the firm's spyware.
The Thai government is the main suspect due to NSO's claims that it only sells to government agencies. The group also says it gets the approval of the Israeli occupation's government for each one of its deals.
Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto discovered an exploit that allowed NSO users to infect iPhones with the company's Pegasus spyware via a weakness in the iMessage feature.
"The infections occurred from October 2020 to November 2021, coinciding with a period of widespread pro-democracy protests, and predominantly targeted key figures in the pro-democracy movement," Citizen Lab said. "In numerous cases, multiple members of movements or organizations were infected."
Pegasus one year on
Since the revelations of “Project Pegasus” in July 2021, the Israeli company has faced an unprecedented crisis, between multiple revelations about the use of its spyware, financial hardships, and numerous lawsuits.
The crisis began on July 18 with the publications of "Project Pegasus". Coordinated by the international media network Forbidden Stories and with the help of Amnesty International, and seventeen other news outlets revealed the systematic misuse of Pegasus spyware, NSO group's flagship product.
The phones and devices of activists, journalists, and politicians in many countries across the world have been infected by this powerful smartphone spyware, and hundreds of others have been targeted.