LONDON (Middle East Eye) – A British-Palestinian academic and activist has joined a legal challenge in the UK’s High Court against NSO Group, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates over reports that NSO’s Pegasus spyware was used against him.
Azzam Tamimi was targeted with the Zionist firm’s military-grade spyware by Saudi Arabia on several occasions between 2018 and 2021, his lawyers said on Wednesday.
Tamimi, who was a long-standing friend of Jamal Khashoggi, says his phone was infiltrated while he was in touch with the journalist, who was murdered by a Saudi kill team in October 2018.
Khashoggi also appeared on Tamimi’s show on the satellite TV channel Al-Hiwar a month before the first verified example of Tamimi’s phone being hacked, his lawyers say.
“This deliberate and evil act shows that the regime will stop at nothing to crush free speech and the human rights of those who criticize it,” Tamimi said in a statement on Wednesday.
“We will bring these matters into the light and believe that justice will prevail in the end.”
MEE has sought comments from Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and NSO Group.
Tamimi joins three other UK-based activists - Yahya Assiri, a Saudi human rights defender, Anas Altikriti, head of the Cordoba Foundation, and Mohammed Kozbar, chairman of Finsbury Park Mosque - in the legal action they began earlier this year.
Their action was given a potential boost in August when the High Court ruled that prominent Saudi Arabian satirist and dissident Ghanem al-Masarir could proceed with his own spyware lawsuit against the kingdom. Masarir alleges that Riyadh installed spyware on his phones and ordered an assault on him.
The judgment in his case was the first ruling in a UK court involving spyware and a foreign country. It will likely set a precedent for future cases involving UK-based individuals allegedly targeted by foreign states on British soil.
Claimants in the legal action brought by the London-based Bindmans law firm and the Global Legal Action Network, now joined by Tamimi, have previously told Middle East Eye of the emotional toll that the alleged infiltrations have had on their lives and the tangible costs to their work.
Altikriti, who works as a hostage negotiator in addition to running the UK-based Cordoba Foundation, said he was in the middle of a negotiation for the release of a young woman when his phones were hacked, by the UAE.