Journalists under surveillance

At least 180 journalists have been selected for surveillance with the Pegasus spyware, a technology sold by the Israeli company NSO Group to governments around the world.

The spyware can be installed remotely on a smartphone without requiring any action from its owner. Once installed, it allows clients to take complete control of the device. NSO Group asserts that it “only collects data from the mobile devices of specific individuals, suspected to be involved in serious crime and terror.”

Yet, an unprecedented leak of more than 50,000 phone numbers selected since 2016 — which Forbidden Stories and Amnesty International had access to — suggests that the spyware is used much more carelessly than advertised. Phone numbers belonging to journalists were identified in 21 countries. The Forbidden Stories consortium, with the technical support of Amnesty International’s Security Lab, was able to confirm some of those infections through a forensic analysis of the phones, when it was possible to contact the journalists securely. Many investigated crucial public interest matters and held their government accountable through their reporting.

The following list is not comprehensive and includes both cases in which the infection of the phone could be confirmed and cases where the phone could not be analyzed.