UK Prime Minister, Catalan groups ‘targeted by NSO Pegasus spyware’

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Citizen Lab has reported finding suspected surveillance software on devices associated with both the UK Prime Minister’s Office and what was formerly called the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

The Canadian research outfit also said it had identified at least 65 individuals linked with Catalan civil society groups in Spain who were targeted by, or infected with, surveillance software. Catalonia is an autonomous region within Spain where there’s an ongoing politically divisive fight for national independence.

On Monday, Citizen Lab, a part of at the University of Toronto’s Munk School, said it had found likely NSO Group Pegasus spyware infections on devices associated with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s office, 10 Downing Street, and on devices linked to the FCO, now called the FCDO, or the Foreign Commonwealth and Development office.

“We confirm that in 2020 and 2021 we observed and notified the government of the United Kingdom of multiple suspected instances of Pegasus spyware infections within official UK networks,” said Ron Deibert, director of the Citizen Lab and professor of political science at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy, in a statement.

Deibert said the suspected infection associated with 10 Downing Street was linked to a Pegasus operator with ties to the United Arab Emirates while the FCO suspected infection appears to be linked to Pegasus operators associated with UAE, India, Cyprus, and Jordan.

He cautioned that because the FCO/FCDO have employees in various countries, the suspected infections observed may be

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