The emir of Dubai (United Arab Emirates), Mohammed sin Rashid al Maktoum, 70, ordered the espionage of his ex-wife, Princess Haya of Jordan, 46, using Israeli-made Pegasus military technology, according to a London High Court Judge. The Emir gave permission to agents working under him to hack the phone of the princess, who fled to London in May 2019 with her two youngest children, Jalila and Zayed, aged 13 and nine. The operation also includes the cell phone of lawyer Fiona Shackleton, who is responsible for Haya’s legal representation during the divorce proceedings launched under UK jurisdiction. use of spyware Pegasus, designed under license by the company NSO Group, is only permitted for intelligence personnel of sovereign states, in the fight against terrorism or organized crime. However, through investigations promoted by Amnesty International and by the organization Citizen Lab, and published by media such as British newspapers SecurityIt was recently discovered that the technology has been used worldwide to spy on politicians, human rights activists or journalists (including members of the EL PAÍS newsroom). While the disclosure marks the opening of legal proceedings in the United States and Israel, the British judge’s ruling marks the first firm legal conviction regarding the technology.
For the Emir of Dubai, and the Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, a friend of Queen Elizabeth II and a regular at the Ascot horse racing, it is an added shame to a record that includes the kidnapping of his two daughters. , and an intimidation campaign against his ex-wife that included death threats. It is “most likely”, concluded the president of the High Court’s Family section, Andrew McFarlane, that the hacking of Haya’s mobile device “was carried out by an agent or server under the orders of her father, the Emir of Dubai. , and that the espionage was carried out under their express or implied authorization”. The judge in his ruling referred to “father”, because the decision was included in the judicial process that clarified the custody and maintenance of two minors.
McFarlane also pointed out in his ruling, partly announced this Wednesday, that Haya’s attorney, Shackleton, was warned about the possible hacking of her and her client’s cellphones by two of his colleagues. One of them is Cherie Blair, lawyer and wife of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. While advising the company NSO on human rights, the attorney received a notification from its manager, in which they expressed their concern about their use of technology on Haya and Shackleton’s phones. The lawyer, known as the “steel magnolia” for his decisiveness and charm, has represented clients such as Charles from England, during their divorce proceedings from Lady Diana, or at exbeatle, Paul McCartney.
The judge concluded that at least six mobile devices were bugged with Pegasus technology, and in the case of Princess Haya’s phone, “a large amount of information” could be retrieved.
Up to six wives have been known to the Emir of Dubai and he has 30 children. His last wife, Princess Haya of Jordan, currently lives in London. She faced her husband in a turbulent divorce process, in which the judge took it for granted that Mohamed Bin Rashid ordered the kidnapping of his daughter Latifa. And his sister Shamsa, who was forcibly detained in 2000 in the streets of the university city of Cambridge, in England, will be returned to Dubai.
The United Arab Emirates, whose leaders want it to be a tourist attraction as well as a hub for financial and technological progress, has in recent years become an important actor in the region, both because of its opposition to Iran and its recent relations. .with Israel. These are all advantages in favor of their international allies who prefer to look the other way when it comes to the affairs of their internal ruling family. The revelations of recent months in British courts about the emir’s maneuvers against his ex-wife and two daughters have made this double standard practically untenable.
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