Reports

UK High Court’s Ruling in Favour of Ghanem Al-Masarir Must Be Followed by Practical Steps

Together for Justice welcomes the UK High Court’s ruling that states that Saudi Arabia not immune from legal challenge over spyware against British resident.

On August 19, a British judge has ruled that a case against the kingdom of Saudi Arabia brought by a dissident satirist who was targeted with spyware can proceed, a decision that has been hailed as precedent-setting and one that could allow other hacking victims in Britain to sue foreign governments who order such attacks.

The case against Saudi Arabia was brought by Ghanem Almasarir, a prominent satirist granted asylum in the UK, who is a frequent critic of the Saudi royal family.

At the centre of the case are allegations that Saudi Arabia ordered the hacking of Almasarir’s phone, and that he was physically assaulted by agents of the kingdom in London in 2018.

The targeting and hacking of Almasarir’s phone by a network probably linked to Saudi Arabia was confirmed by researchers at the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto, who are considered among the world’s leading experts in tracking digital surveillance of dissidents, journalists and other members of civil society.

Saudi Arabia is known to be a former client of NSO Group, whose powerful Pegasus hacking software covertly penetrates and compromises smartphones.

As we praise the decision, we also emphasise the profound effect the kingdom’s assault and spyware had had on the life of dozens of critical voices at home and abroad.

Many human rights and media reports have reported on the Saudis’ extensive previous use of NSO’s Pegasus spyware in cases around the world, including researchers’ findings that the kingdom had targeted a close associate of the murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi who was living in Canada, journalists for US and Qatari news outlets, and dissidents and human rights activists.

Therefore, we call on the international community to take effective and practical steps to put an end to the Saudi human rights violations

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