Wednesday a ‘investigation of the Canadian research institute Citizen Lab and some organizations dealing with human rights and cybersecurity revealed that at least 22 journalists of an independent El Salvadorian newspaper very critical of the government were spied on with the software Pegasus of controversial Israeli company NSO, which provides governments with systems to spy on the smartphone activities of terrorists and criminals. The newspaper is called The lighthouse and the one described by the investigation is one of the most extensive operations carried out through Pegasus.
The survey refers to the period from July 2020 to November 2021: the journalists of The lighthouse these are just some of the at least 35 people, including journalists from other newspapers and activists, spied on with the Pegasus software in El Salvador. All the people spied, the investigation said, were variously engaged in documenting and denouncing the undemocratic activities of the young and authoritarian President of El Salvador Nayib Bukele. The head The lighthouse, in particular, she is known for several inquiries into the activities of the Bukele administration (in El Salvador the president is also the head of the government), including her collaboration with local criminal gangs to increase its power over the territory. According to the results of the investigation, the smartphone of Óscar Martínez, investigative journalist from The lighthouse, it would have been hacked 42 times.
The results of the investigation conducted by Citizen Lab say it is very likely that the spying activities were orchestrated directly by the Bukele government. NSO, founded in 2010, has long been suspected of having provided its surveillance systems to foreign governments, which also allegedly used them to spy on journalists, human rights activists, diplomats and business executives. The activities of NSO had already been the focus of several inquiries journalistic in recent years, but the investigation last summer had collected new evidence in this regard, to which are now added that of the Citizen Lab investigation.