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Amnesty International’s Spyware International investigation reveals old-fashioned views of Morocco

Rabat – Amnesty International recent investigation in the use of NSO Groups Spyware Pegasus in Morocco revealed more about myopia and political prejudices within the organization than about the alleged human rights abuses in Morocco.

NGOs focus on Morocco in the investigation into the Israeli NSO Group and the international use of its spyware ended up shedding light on the NGO itself and its myopia when it comes to human rights violations in some countries. The report also revealed that while the rest of the world has continued to return, Amnesty International appears to have stalled in the early 1990s in terms of its view of Morocco.

The investigation sees Morocco as frozen in time, still making the same mistakes and living the same battles as it did 30 years ago. However, Morocco has made significant, tangible progress in its human rights record over the past decades.

That said, no country is beyond shame. Interruptions occur, as we have seen in the US over the past few weeks. The Moroccan, though not at all perfect in his human rights record, deserves to be seen through contemporary, impartial lenses that Amnesty claims to use to appreciate all countries.

Damn rhetoric

On June 22, the human rights group released the findings of an investigation into Morocco, alleging the use of the NSO spy to harass journalist and activist Omar Radi.

The organization revealed that the Omar Radis phone was subjected to numerous attacks using a new sophisticated technique that quietly installed the infamous Pegasus NSO Groups spies, the report said.

Amnesty International then describes how and when Moroccan security services allegedly hacked the Radis phone using Spyware NSO, specifically through network injections which allow cyber-attackers full access to victims’ calls, camera, microphone, messages, emails and other applications.

The NGO states that: The forensic data taken from the phone by Omar Radis show that the network injection attacks took place on January 27, February 11 and September 13, 2019.

Within the June 22 report, there are no gray areas: Amnesty International is clear that Moroccan authorities used Israeli spies, claiming the evidence speaks for itself. However, the report also points out that malware leaves little trace and is extremely difficult to see.

Meanwhile, a source within Morocco’s security services told the Moroccan newspaper Le360 that Morocco [security] the services have no connection to the Israeli company NSO and do not use Pegasus software. The whole Amnesty International report on this topic was wrong and baseless.

The document cites Amnesty Tech Deputy Director Danna Ingleton. Amnesty International’s outdated view of Morocco, Ingleton, sees the investigation as an open and closed case.

Moroccan authorities are increasingly using digital surveillance to crack down on dissent. This illegal espionage and the broader pattern of harassment of activists and journalists must stop, she said, without disseminating evidence to support the allegations.

She classified the forensic data cited in the report as evidence to prove a suspected incident of revenge as cold evidence that Morocco constantly uses spyware to attack and harass journalists and activists.

At the head of this dizzying rhetoric, the report makes the unfounded claim that Morocco continues to use [Pegasus] technology to track, intimidate and silence activists, journalists and critics.

Despite the fact that Morocco categorically denies the allegations and, as a rule, does not share diplomatic relations with Israel that would complicate any government contract, because Amnesty International Morocco’s guilt is cold and indisputable.

The NGO did not forget time to return to Morocco in the 1990s, roundly condemning the Moroccan government, not only for retaliating against Omar Radi, but for continuing abuses for which they provided no evidence.

Morocco World News contacted Amnesty International’s media office by phone and e-mail for comment, but has yet to receive a response.

Moroccan newspaper Le Desk quoted a Moroccan security official as explaining Morocco’s current position on spyware.

For us, citizens like the one quoted in the report [Omar Radi], who have not been radicalized, and do not pose even a small threat to the country’s security do not justify the money or technology that such surveillance would require, the source said.

The source also stressed the opinion of the Moroccan governments of journalist Radi, saying: We do not consider him [Radis] expressions of public opinion as an act of underestimation aimed at inciting social unrest, it represents the diversity of opinions.

Vague lines and inaccuracies

In the June 22 report, Amnesty International claims that: For network injections, the attacker seeks either physical proximity to targets or access to mobile networks instead of only one government could authorize, a further indication that Moroccan authorities were responsible for the attack. against Omar Radi.

Technology experts argue that tracking the origin of network injections is not as simple as Amnesty International suggests in the report. The process of tracking and identifying the presence and use of Pegasus spyware is bound to be inaccurate, meaning that Amnesty International claims that the Moroccan government had any involvement in, or even awareness of, Omar Radis cell phone hacking being unfounded.

A tech expert explained the news to Francophone Le360 that “every action leaves traces to identify it. IP is equivalent to the residence certificate for this act,” which means that Amnesty International researchers could have tracked spyware-infected messages that Radi received before 2018 through the telephone operator , thus proving whether the Moroccan government was behind the hack. The Amnesty International report does not mention this, and its links between the Moroccan government and the Hack are largely unfounded.

A 2018 study by researchers at the University of Toronto in Canada found that Pegasus espionage was active in 45 countries. The use of spyware was widespread in the Gulf states, the UK, the US, France, Greece, and a number of other countries.

The report notes that the findings are based on nationwide geolocation of DNS servers, factors such as VPN and Internet satellite teleport locations may lead to inaccuracies.

The research found that operators using spyware were active in several Gulf states: In total, we identify at least six operators with significant GCC operations, including at least two that appear to be largely concentrated in the United Arab Emirates, one that appears to be concentrated. mainly in Bahrain, and one with a Saudi focus.

Saudi Arabia, according to research from the Canadian University, was using spies for purposes across the Middle East and Europe and was actively seeking the execution of five non-violent human rights activists accused of shouting slogans at demonstrations. and the publication of protest videos on social media.

Meanwhile, an operator in North Africa seemed to be focusing on Morocco but also [have been] spying on targets in other countries including Algeria, France and Tunisia.

The research report suggests that, although it is possible to identify the location of the operators, it is not possible to confirm with any accuracy who is behind the use of the malware. Furthermore, an operator may target sources of information in different locations and does not depend on the government or authorities for access to mobile networks through the use of VPNs.

Myopia and prejudice

Given the global prevalence of Pegasus spyware use, the use of damn rhetoric in the June 22 report by Amnesty International reveals a clear and disturbing myopia regarding Morocco.

The human rights NGO was quick to point out the condemnation of the Moroccan government for allegedly using spyware, but has been extremely calm on the issue of other states using Israeli software.

After sharply criticizing Moroccan authorities for their alleged involvement in the cyber attack on Radi, the Amnesty International report briefly cites other countries where the NSO Groups program has been uncovered.

Amnesty International and others have documented a model of NSO Groups Spyware Pegasus being used to target civil society. Spyware has been used in attacks on journalists and parliamentarians in Mexico; Saudi activists Omar Abdulaziz, Yahya Assiri, Ghanem Al-Masarir; Emirati human rights winner Ahmed Mansoor; a member of the staff of Amnesty International; and allegedly used in connection with the assassination of Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi, the report said.

Not to mention the use of spyware in Israel, the US, the UK or France. And while the NGO is calling on Israel to control and curb spy exports in order to stop the use of malware to violate human rights, there is no evidence that Amnesty International has investigated whether the Israeli government is using NSO software group outside of anti-terrorism. There have also been no specific reports from the country on the use of NSO Group malware in Saudi Arabia’s UAE.

Although Amnesty International has a very sharp vision in its assessment of Morocco and other oppressive states, myopia has established a place where some other states are concerned. And while the NGO claims to be independently funded and independent, despite international governments, an examination of the facts in question shows that Amnesty International’s inherent prejudices are rooted in the dollar.

Influence through funding

A 2017 report from International Network revealed the truth behind NGO finances, and through them, the roots of Amnesty Internationals selective blindness. The report shows that Amnesty International has received funding from The National Endowment for Democracy (NED), which is officially funded by the United States Congress, is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

The International Study Report explains that the NGO is far from transparent in terms of access to information, and that information about donors is increasingly difficult to use. Today is almost impossible to find direct evidence that in 2008, the Israeli branch of Amnesty International received a donation of 130 186 NIS from the United States Department of State, the report notes.

The Royal Dutch Embassy in Israel, the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID), the US government, through other associations, and the Norwegian Telethon, among other Western government sources, all appear on Amnesty’s donor list. International.

A June 2012 report from the NGO Documented monitoring Amnesty Internationalfinances and directly questioned NGOs’ claims of human rights impartiality.

A closer look at Amnesty International’s funding raises a number of questions.

Which donor is behind NGOs that do not have the coverage of human rights violations in Egypt? Who benefited from Amnesty International’s position on NATO’s intervention in Libya in 2011? Why does the mistreatment of migrant workers in Qatar guarantee more scrutiny than the horrific treatment of local workers in other Gulf states?

While protecting and safeguarding human rights access around the globe is a vital mission and one that every government should stand firmly behind, Amnesty International’s myopia when it comes to certain countries and the intense, outdated crises and views, where others are concerned, undermine its intentions.

Condemning Morocco so openly in the latest Pegasus report, Amnesty International has sharply shown it all that a clear and impartial investigation is needed within its ranks in order to escape the remaining traces of its transparency and credibility. his.

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