El Salvador: Hearing On Abuse Of Pegasus Spyware To Be Held

widespread unlawful surveillance using Pegasus spyware against journalists and civil society

Photos: Twitter\Amnesty International

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) will examine the widespread unlawful surveillance using Pegasus spyware against journalists and civil society in El Salvador at a hearing on Wednesday.

Amnesty International, Access Now and Citizen Lab will provide expert opinion at a hearing.

The moves follows a joint investigation by Access Now, and the Citizen Lab, published in January, which identified the use of NSO Group’s notorious Pegasus spyware against journalists and members of civil society organizations in El Salvador.

Technical experts from Amnesty International’s Security Lab peer-reviewed the findings and independently verified forensic evidence showing that Pegasus has been abused in the country.

“NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware is being used as a weapon to silence journalists in El Salvador and across the world. The IACHR hearing is a key step towards accountability for people who have been unlawfully targeted by spyware,” said Belissa Guerrero Rivas, Regional Advocacy Coordinator for the Americas at Amnesty International.

“The unlawful use of Pegasus in El Salvador is part of a wider pattern of harassment and threats against journalists and human rights defenders, who work in an increasingly hostile environment. This underscores the need for a prompt, thorough and impartial investigation into the unlawful use of this technology in the country. There also needs to be an immediate moratorium on the use of spyware technology until a regulatory framework that protects human rights is implemented.”

Wednesday’s hearing is the first by the IACHR on cyber-surveillance in the country. The hearing was requested by the Asociación de Periodistas de El Salvador Periódico Digital El Faro, Revista Gato Encerrado, Fundación para el Debido Proceso and the Centro por la Justicia y el Derecho Internacional), following January’s revelations.

The IACHR hearing will be available to watch here.

Editors Note: The use of the Pegasus spyware is deserving of more international investigations and condemnations. All of the corrupt regimes who think they can use these malicious machinations to intimidate journalists must be exposed. Recently, it was reported that the corrupt dicatatorial regime in Uganda is among the despotic governments apparently using this technology–including against U.S. diplomats.

America gives Uganda $1 billion in aid annually. The son of Ugandan dictator Yoweri Museveni, Lt. General Muhoozi Kainerugaba, has been specifically linked to a $10 to 20 million dollar Pegasus deal with the NSO group.

Gen. Muhoozi is known to be behind the most recent torture of one of our columnists, Kakwenza Rukirabashaija, winner of the PEN 2021 Pinter International Writer of Courage Award. Mr. Rukirabashaija, who recently fled to Germany, told us after his escape that his torturers asked him specifically about his links to the Black Star News. One photo of the scarred back of Rukirabashaija can be seen just below.

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