Amnesty claims that 2 Morocco rights advocates were targeted by NSO Group spyware

Pierluigi Paganini October 10, 2019

NSO Group ‘s surveillance spyware made the headlines again, this time the malware was used to spy on 2 rights activists in Morocco according Amnesty International.

Amnesty International collected evidence of new abuses of the NSO Group ‘s surveillance spyware, this time the malware was used to spy two rights activists in Morocco.

Experts at Amnesty International analyzed the device of evidence of Abdessadak El Bouchattaoui and confirmed it was targeted repeatedly with malicious SMS messages that carried links to websites connected to NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware.

“After checking his devices for evidence of targeting, Amnesty International was able to confirm that Abdessadak El Bouchattaoui was indeed targeted repeatedly with malicious SMS messages that carried links to websites connected to NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware.” reads the analysis published by Amnesty International.

The organization also discovered that the spyware was also used to spy on Maati Monjib, the right group believes the operation is part of state-sponsored repression of human rights defenders.

Bouchattaoui is a lawyer and HRD, in February 2017, a court in Al Hoceima sentenced him to 20 months in prison and a fine for online posts in which he criticized the use of excessive force by the authorities during the social justice protests in the Hirak El-Rif across 2016 and 2017. Monjib is a historian and a columnist, co-founder of the NGO Freedom that in 2015 was accused of threatening the internal security of the state ”through “propaganda.”

NSO Group Pegasus

The victims were targeted with messages related to the Hirak El-Rif movement and the subsequent repression by the Moroccan security forces. The messages included links that once clicked by the victims will start the attack chain that would allow the attacker to remotely control the device.

The links used in these attacks are similar to the ones detected by in June 2018 by Amnesty International in operations against an Amnesty staff member and a Saudi HRD.

“SMS messages sent to Moroccan Human Rights Defenders, as documented in this report, also carry similar links to the same set of Internet infrastructure attributed to NSO Group.” states the report.

“NSO Group is known to only sell its spyware to government intelligence and law enforcement agencies, raising serious concerns that Moroccan security agencies are behind the surveillance,”

NSO Group refuses any accusation and claims that its surveillance technology is only used for lawful purposes. 

In May, Amnesty International filed a lawsuit against Israeli surveillance firm NSO, the lawsuit was filed in Israel by about 50 members and supporters of the human rights group. The organization calls on the Israeli ministry of defence to ban the export of the Pegasus surveillance software developed by NSO Group.

[adrotate banner=”9″] [adrotate banner=”12″]

Pierluigi Paganini

(SecurityAffairs – NSO Group, hacking)

[adrotate banner=”5″]

[adrotate banner=”13″]

you might also like

leave a comment