Pegasus Project | All the Articles

Forbidden Stories gathered all the article from the Pegasus Project here

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The Khashoggi murder

NSO Group denied that Pegasus was used to target Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi journalist killed in Turkey, or his family members. New evidence shows the spyware was actually used to target people close to Khashoggi, both before and after his death.


Washington Post Frontline PBS Le Monde Süddeutsche Zeitung The Guardian Le Soir Die Zeit Daraj Radio France Haaretz

Crédit : POMED, Licence CC BY 2.0

An election under close surveillance

At least 50 people close to the Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador were selected by a Mexican client of NSO Group before his election. Among ther are his wife, children, aides and doctor.


Aristegui Noticias Proceso The Guardian Die Zeit The Wire Le Monde

Crédit : Gobierno Danilo Medina, Licence CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

What is Pegasus?

What does the spyware from the Israeli company NSO consist of ? Installed remotely, invisible, it grants a complete access to any smartphone, including encrypted messaging apps.


The Washington Post Le Monde The Guardian Radio France OCCRP Süddeutsche Zeitung Le Soir

Activists and their lawyers

Pegasus has been used to target activists and their lawyers. Prominent human rights lawyers in numerous countries were among those in the Pegasus Project records, as well as well-known dissidents from Saudi Arabia and many other countries.


The Guardian Süddeutsche Zeitung Radio France Aristegui Noticias

Crédit : Jeanne Menjoulet, Licence Licence CC BY 2.0

The Pegasus Project

A leak of more than 50,000 phone numbers selected for surveillance by the customers of NSO Group shows how this technology has been abused for years. Forbidden Stories and Amnesty International had access to records of phone numbers selected in more than 50 countries.


Die Zeit Le Monde Proceso Knack OCCRP The Guardian The Wire Daraj The Washington Post Radio France Le Soir

Apple’s vulnerabilities

The iPhone has enjoyed a reputation for high security for over a decade. And yet, as recently as June 2021, an activist's phone with the latest updates installed was infected with the Pegasus spyware.


The Washington Post Le Monde Knack The Guardian Süddeutsche Zeitung

Crédit : Aaron Yoo, Licence CC BY-ND 2.0

Snowden: “An industry that should not exist”

The Guardian interviewed whistleblower Edward Snowden on July 19 about the findings of the Pegasus Project. Snowden calls for a global ban on the trade in infection vectors in order prevent commercial abuse of vulnerabilities in mobile phones.


The Guardian Knack Radio France Die Zeit Le Monde

Crédit : Mike Mozart, Licence CC BY 2.0

Journalists – Azerbaijan

Of the 250 people with Azerbaijani numbers who were selected for surveillance with the Pegasus spyware, the largest single category were journalists, with 59 reporters, editors, and media company owners appearing on the list. Azerbaijan was not a known NSO Group client until now.


OCCRP Süddeutsche Zeitung

Heads of state also selected

The Pegasus Project data includes the telephone numbers of 13 heads of state and heads of government. Political figures whose numbers appear in the list include the South African president Cyril Ramaphosa, the prime minister of Pakistan Imran Khan and King Mohammed VI of Morocco.


The Guardian The Washington Post OCCRP France Info Le Monde Süddeutsche Zeitung

Crédit : Paul Kagame, Licence CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Journalists – France & Morocco

Many critical journalists, including some who are today behind bars, were surveilled by the Moroccan authorities. French journalists working for Mediapart, Le Canard Enchainé, France 2 and France 24, were also targeted by the regime.


Le Monde Daraj Radio France Le Soir

Rahul Gandhi: an opponent under surveillance

Indian opposition leader Rahul Gandhi, his advisors and at least five of his friends were selected with the Pegasus spyware. The surveillance lasted throughout the 2018 legislative campaign and at least until the summer of 2019, a few weeks after his defeat and resignation as party leader.


The Wire The Guardian Le Monde Haaretz

Crédit : Slugpost, Licence CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

The company behind Pegasus

Perhaps the most notorious cyber surveillance company in the world, NSO, has established itself as the leader in phone surveillance over the past decade. Despite repeated scandals since 2016, it continues its ascent.


Le Monde Süddetusche Zeitung OCCRP

Rusesabagina’s daughter spied on

Carine Kanimba, the daughter of Rwandan activist Paul Rusesabagina, has been targeted with the Pegasus spyware since January 2021. Kanimba has been leading her family’s effort to free her father from prison following his abduction and imprisonment last year.


Süddeutsche Zeitung Knack The Guardian Le Soir Le Monde OCCRP

Crédit : Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy University of Michigan, Licence CC BY-ND 2.0

Morocco’s interest in Macron and Michel

In 2019, a phone number of French President Emmanuel Macron was selected for a possible infection with the Pegasus spyware. A phone number belonging to Charles Michel, while he was prime minister of Belgium, was also selected in 2019 by the Moroccan client of the company NSO Group.


Le Monde Knack France Info Die Zeit Haaretz Süddeutsche Zeitung Le Soir

Crédit : Jacques Paquier, Licence CC BY 2.0

Journalists – Hungary

Viktor Orbán’s government has deployed a new weapon in its war on the media in Hungary, using some of the world’s most invasive spyware against investigative journalists and the circle of one of the country’s last remaining independent media owners.


Direkt36 Le Monde Süddeutsche Zeitung The Guardian The Washington Post Le Soir Die Zeit Radio France

The role played by Israel

NSO Group is regulated by export control authorities in Israel. Several U.S. and European officials say they presume the company provides at least some information to the Israeli government about who is using its spying productsand what information they’re collecting.


Haaretz The Washington Post The Guardian Le Monde

Crédit : Izhar Laufer, Licence CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Journalists – Mexico

The phone numbers of at leats 25 Mexican reporters, working for all major media in the country, were selected with the Pegasus spyware. Among them is Cecilio Pineda, an independent journalist selected soon before his murder in 2017.


Aristegui Noticias Proceso The Guardian

Crédit : Secretaría de Cultura Ciudad de México, Licence CC BY-SA 2.0

The sensitive issue of Western Sahara

Western Sahara is claimed by both Morocco and the Polisario Front, a rebel national liberation movement supported by Algeria. The issue is taboo and a real obsession for the monarchy of Mohammed VI. Activists, elected officials and even lawyers have been selected and targeted by a Moroccan client of NSO Group.


Radio France Le Monde

Journalists – India

About 30 Indian reporters have been spied on via Pegasus since 2016. Among them are critical voices, journalists in frequent contact with diplomats and the miliary, but also local reporters.


The Wire The Washington Post

The French political world selected by Morocco

In France, fifteen ministers in Edouard Philippe's government were selected by a Moroccan client of NSO Group in 2019. The phonz numbers of a large number of personalities ranging from the far left to the far right have also been selected.


Le Monde Radio France

Crédit : FDR - François de Rugy, Licence CC BY 2.0

Journalists surveilled

Almost 200 journalists worldwide were selected for surveillance with spyware. Journalists in 21 country, including both authoritarian and democratic regimes, appear in the records of phone numbers of the Pegasus Project.


Knack Le Monde The Guardian OCCRP

Telegram founder Pavel Durov

Pavel Durov, the founder of Telegram, an encrypted messaging service used by half a million users, was selected by an NSO client when the businessman was setting up his company in Dubai. Pavel Durov has grown popular with those who want to escape government surveillance and claims that Telegram is far more protective than its competitors.


The Guardian Le Monde

Crédit : Melies The Bunny, Licence CC BY-NC 2.0

BeIN Sports channel

Nasser Al-Khelaïfi, a Qatari businessman who owns both of the Paris soccer team PSG and sport channel BeIN Sports, was targeted by the Pegasus spyware in the middle of a diplomatic and commercial battle between Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.


Le Monde

Crédit : PSG World ©, Licence CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

UAE Princesses

The phone number of Princess Latifa, the daughter of the emir of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, appears in the Pegasus Projet data. The selection coincides with her dramatic escape from Dubai. The data also includes the phone numbers of the closest aides and friends of his ex-wife, Princess Haya bint al-Hussein, as she was moving to the UK in 2019.


The Guardian The Washington Post Haaretz Die Zeit Südeutsche Zeitung Le Monde The Wire Radio France Le Soir

Crédit : Tiina Jauhiainen, Licence CC BY-SA 4.0

Dalai Lama’s inner circle

The Dalai Lama does not own a smartphone but that has not prevented him from being monitored through his relatives. In total, nearly twenty Tibetan activists, politicians and religious leaders in exile are on the list of numbers selected by an Indian client of NSO Group.


The Wire Le Monde The Guardian

Crédit : webted, Licence CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The Rafale controversy

In 2016, the French company Dassault sold 36 Rafale aircrafts to India for 7.8 billion euros. Two years later it became known as the "Rafale scandal" as suspicions of corruption hang over this contract. It was at that time that an Indian customer of NSO Group selected the businessman Anil Ambani, suspected of being one of the beneficiaries of the contract.


The Wire Le Monde

Crédit : Ank Kumar, Licence CC BY-NC-ND 2.0


Activists and journalists were selected by a Togolese client of NSO Group under the presidency of Faure Gnassingbé, who has been firmly in power since 2005. In total, more than 300 Togolese numbers appear on the list of potential targets of the Israeli spyware Pegasus.


Le Monde

Crédit : Présidence Togolaise, Licence CC BY 2.0

The Project

An unprecedented leak of more than 50,000 phone numbers selected for surveillance with Pegasus, a spyware sold by Israeli company NSO Group, shows how this technology has been systematically abused for years to spy on journalists, human rights defenders, academics, businesspeople, lawyers, doctors, union leaders, diplomats, politicians and several heads of states.

Journalists from the Pegasus Project — more than 80 reporters from 17 media organizations in 11 countries coordinated by Forbidden Stories with the technical support of Amnesty International’s Security Lab — sifted through these records of phone numbers and were able to take a peak behind the curtain of this surveillance weapon, which had never been possible to this extent before.

Our partners

With the technical support of Amnesty International's Security Lab