Israel-made hacking tools used to spy on Mexican journalists and Arab royalty

PARIS (AP) — One day late last year, Qatari newspaper editor Abdullah Al-Athbah came home, removed the SIM card from his iPhone 7 and smashed it to pieces with a hammer.

A source had just handed Al-Athbah a cache of emails suggesting that his phone had been targeted by hacking software made by Israel’s NSO Group. He told The Associated Press he considered the phone compromised.

“I feared that someone could get back into it,” he said in an interview on Friday Aug. 31. “I needed to protect my sources.”

Al-Athbah, who edits Qatar’s Al-Arab newspaper, now has a new phone, a new SIM card and a new approach to email attachments and links. He says he never opens anything, “even from the most trusted circles in my life.”

Al-Athbah’s discovery touched off a process that has led, months later, to parallel lawsuits filed in Israel and Cyprus — and provided a behind-the-scenes look at how government-grade spyware is used to eavesdrop on everyone from Mexican reporters to Arab royalty.

The NSO Group did not immediately return messages seeking comment.

The first lawsuit , filed in a Tel Aviv court on Thursday Aug, 30, carries a claim from five Mexican journalists and activists who allege they were spied on using NSO Group software. The second…

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