Ferdinand Ayité was selected for surveillance with the Pegasus spyware in 2018. Forbidden Stories was unable to analyze the phone to confirm the infection.
Who is he?
Ferdinand Ayité is the director of the Togolese investigative bi-monthly newspaper L’Alternative. His newspaper is one of the most critical of the Gnassingbé family which has been in power for 54 years.
He is a member of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and he worked on the Panama Papers investigation in 2016, focusing on tax evasion orchestrated by Indian tycoons based in Togo.
In 2018, Ayité published numerous critical articles, including a column on the alleged corruption of the electoral commission in Togo. In another article, he accused the government of being behind arrests that took place at the University of Lomé in order to silence the inner circle of David Dosseh, a university professor involved in student protests and spokesperson of a citizen movement.
Ayité is himself active within the citizen movement Nubuéké, which has been repressed by authorities. In 2017 and 2018, he covered extensively protests that were demanding the resignation of President Faure Gnassingbé. Ayité says that, in retaliation, electricity was several times cut off at the newspaper’s offices.
L’Alternative has faced more and more legal threats recently. In March 2020, the newspaper was suspended for two months after the French ambassador complained about an article on the French President Emmanuel Macron. Several months later, the publication revealed a scandal called “Petrol gate” about the misappropriation of 764 million euros by two civil servants. This cost the newspaper a fine for defamation, despite the fact that an audit report commissioned by the government reached the same conclusions.
In February 2021, a complaint by a Minister led to a new four-month suspension of the publication.
"Panama Papers, Togo : Les Indiens de Wacem et leurs complices togolais, passés maîtres de l’évasion fiscale" L'Alternative (2016)Read
"Méthodes d’un Etat voyou : Prof David Dosseh visé à Majesté Ihou" L'Alternative (2018)Read
"Grand scandale dans l’importation de pétrole : Fabrice Adjakly complice de VITOL disparaît avec plusieurs milliards de FCFA" L'Alternative (2020)Read
Togolese authorities did not respond to detailed questions sent by Forbidden Stories and its partners.NSO Group did not answer Forbidden Stories’ questions on specific targets but said it “will continue to investigate all credible claims of misuse and take appropriate action based on the results of these investigations.”