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The phone number of Emirati Princess Latifa, daughter of the ruler of Dubai who accused her family of holding her against her will, appeared on a leaked list of more than 50,000 numbers allegedly selected as potential targets by NSO Group customers . Some of the princess’s friend numbers were also on the list.
Israel’s cyber-surveillance company comes under fire after a far-reaching joint research published by 17 media outlets revealed that the smartphones of journalists, politicians, activists and even heads of state may have been hacked by the NSO Group’s Pegasus software, which researchers say gives users access to a phone’s content and the ability to access it remotely. get to the camera and microphone.
Research by Citizen Lab, the digital watchdog at the University of Toronto that participated in the investigation, shows that the United Arab Emirates was a customer of NSO Group when Latifa tried to flee in 2018.
The whereabouts and well-being of Latifa, the daughter of the Prime Minister of the Emirates, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, remains a mystery. Earlier this year, the BBC’s “Panorama” program aired a series of videos in which: Latifa claimed to have been detained “held hostage” by her family with no access to medical help or the ability to get fresh air.
After the government of the Emirates said in February that the princess “cared for at home,” a photo turned up in June on social media that appeared to show Latifa on holiday in Spain. In May, she was also photographed in a shopping center in Dubai. The campaign for her release has been suspended.
She had not been seen in public since her failed escape from the UAE in February 2018. Latifa had hoped to seek asylum in the United States by crossing Oman and sailing the Indian Ocean on a US-flagged yacht to India, and from there she would board a flight to the United States. But just over a week after her escape, the ship was intercepted in international waters by Indian commandos and Emirates special forces, who forcibly returned Latifa to Dubai.
according to The Washington PostLatifa’s phone number and that of her friends appeared on the list in the hours and days after she went missing. The leaked records show that Latifa and her friend Tiina Jauhiainen had already thrown away their phones in Dubai and had run away by the time their numbers appeared on the list. The Post notes that without analyzing Latifa’s phone, it’s impossible to know if it was successfully monitored using the Pegasus spyware.
NSO Group said in a statement that the numbers on the list are not those of targets or potential targets and that “repeated reliance on this list and association of the people on this list as potential surveillance targets is false and misleading.”
The investigation also found that the phone numbers of Princess Haya and her staff were added to the list in early 2019. Princess Haya, the youngest of Sheikh Mohammed’s six wives, fled to London in April 2019 with the couple’s two young children after she reportedly feared for her life. in Dubai.
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