Loujain al-Hathloul accuses US contractor of tapping her iPhone

Saudi female activist Loujain al-Hathloul accuses US contractor of tapping her iPhone

A Saudi Arabian women's rights activist accused three former US intelligence contractors of illegally hacking her cell phone, resulting in her being arrested and later tortured in her home country. The activist, Loujain al-Hathloul, later filed a lawsuit in a US court.

Ummatimes - Loujain al-Hathloul is actively campaigning for the right of Saudi Arabian women to drive by live broadcasting herself driving a car.

In Saudi Arabia, women were banned from driving before the law was lifted in 2018.

He spent nearly three years in a Saudi prison and is currently barred from leaving the Kingdom. The lawsuit was filed on his behalf on Thursday, December 9, 2021, in federal court in Oregon by the nonprofit Electronic Frontier Foundation.

It is alleged that a surveillance operation run by three former contractors and DarkMatter, a United Arab Emirates cybersecurity company, led to the arrest of al-Hathloul by the UAE security services.

He was extradited by private plane to Saudi Arabia, "where he was detained, imprisoned and tortured," according to the lawsuit.

A Reuters investigation in 2019 cited by the lawsuit revealed that al-Hathloul was targeted in 2017 by a team of US mercenaries monitoring dissidents on behalf of the UAE under the Project Raven program, categorizing him as a national security threat and having his iPhone hacked.

Al-Hathloul said that while he was being tortured, interrogators cited communications they appeared to have learned through "unauthorized access" to his phone, according to the lawsuit.

Saudi officials have denied torturing al-Hathloul and said he received a fair trial. Reuters requested a response to the Saudi and Emirati embassies in Washington, but did not immediately respond.

In a separate settlement with US federal prosecutors in September for hacking charges, three former US intelligence contractors Marc Baier, Ryan Adams and Daniel Gericke admitted to conducting surveillance operations on behalf of the UAE, including breaking into mobile devices.

Requests for comment sent to representatives of Gericke, Baier, Adams and DarkMatter were not immediately answered.

"No government or individual should tolerate the abuse of spy malware to hinder human rights," al-Hathloul said in a statement.

"This is why I chose to defend our collective right to stay safe online and limit government-supported abuse of cyber power."