In January 2020, Mr. Hubbard published the account of an attempted hack against his own phone. Mr Hulio denied that Mr Hubbard’s phone was attacked by Pegasus and suggested it was the target of a product made by a rival Israeli tech company.
Michael Slackman, Times associate editor for international news, said: “Azam Ahmed and Ben Hubbard are talented journalists who have done an important job uncovering information that governments did not want their citizens to know. Surveillance of journalists is designed to intimidate not only these journalists, but also their sources, which should be of concern to everyone. “
Along with Nicole Perlroth, Mr. Ahmed helped lead the Times report on how the Mexican government used the Pegasus app against some of the nation’s foremost journalists, democracy advocates, corruption fighters and lawyers – and later against international investigators brought into the country to investigate the tragic disappearance of dozens of students, as well as those close to the Mexican government entourage after they began to challenge government corruption. Tomás Zerón, who ran the Mexican FBI and was involved in purchasing the spy systems for the country, is now wanted in Mexico for investigation-related offenses and has taken refuge in Israel.
The Times also reported that Pegasus was deployed to Mexico in 2017 against policymakers and nutrition activists pushing for a soda tax in a country with serious health issues related to soda consumption, as well as political opponents of senior Emirati officials.
Amnesty International analysts examined 67 smartphones associated with numbers on its leaked list and concluded that 24 had been infected with Pegasus and 13 more had been targeted. Testing on the remaining 30 was inconclusive, the consortium said.
Two of the targeted phones belonged to Szabolcs Panyi and Andras Szabo, investigative journalists in Hungary who regularly cover government corruption. Another belonged to Hatice Cengiz, Mr. Khashoggi’s fiancee, whose phone was broken into in the days following his assassination.
Pegasus can allow spies to access the memory of an infected phone and view photos, videos, emails and texts, even on apps that offer encrypted communication. The software can also allow spies to record conversations made on or near a phone, use its cameras and locate its users.
Ronen Bergman reported from Tel Aviv and Patrick Kingsley from Jerusalem.