UK High Court finds Dubai ruler hacked ex-wife’s phone using NSO spyware

LONDON — Britain’s High Court finds that the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, hacked the phones of his ex-wife Princess Haya and her attorneys during their legal battle over custody of their two children.

Al Maktoum, 72, gave his “express or implied authority” to hack the phones of the princess, 47, and her attorneys using Pegasus spyware produced by the NSO Group of Israel. The software is licensed exclusively to states for the use of their security services.

The hacking came to light partly through the work of William Marczak, a post-doctoral researcher at the University of California, Berkeley, who has studied government use of spyware. In addition, attorney Cherie Blair, the wife of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, told Princess Haya’s lawyer, Fiona Shackleton, that she may have been hacked, the court heard.

Cherie Blair, then an NSO adviser, contacted Shackleton to tell her that the software may have been “misused”.

Al Maktoum’s lawyers choose not to offer evidence in court to counter the allegation. His lawyers argue that Princess Haya has not proved her case and that he cannot confirm or deny whether the UAE had a contract with the NSO Group.

His lawyers suggest that another country, such as Iran, Israel, Saudi Arabia or Jordan may have been responsible for the hacking.

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