Runaway Saudi Princess Latifa and her stepmother Princess Hayaa bint al-Hussein have been named as targets of the Pegasus software hack after both women tried to flee Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE.
The two women’s phone numbers appeared on the list of targets put together by foreign governments who had purchased the software from Israeli firm NSO Group after they both fled the UAE, along with those of heads of state including Emmanuel Macron, the chief of the World Health Organization and the Presidents of South Africa and Pakistan.
Pegasus is a malware made by Israeli firm NSO Group that was purportedly intended to combat terrorism and is sold to foreign governments.
According to Amnesty International and a consortium of international media outlets, foreign governments who bought Pegasus from NSO later used it nefariously snoop through the phones of journalists, royals and private individuals, like the two princesses who both tried to flee the sheikh.
In a report on Wednesday, The Washington Post, one of the outlets in the consortium, reveals that Latifa’s phone number appeared on the Pegasus list in 2018, along with others that belonged to her associates, after she fled.
Haya’s was entered in 2019, after she fled, along with the numbers of several of her associates, following an alleged affair with a British bodyguard and after privately raising concerns about Latifa to her husband.
In 2018, Latifa tried to flee her father on board a yacht but was caught and taken back to Saudi Arabia.
In 2019, Haya fled to London after an alleged affair with a bodyguard.
She has refused to return to the UAE and fought Sheikh Mohammed for custody of their children at the High Court in London last year. She won.
Amnesty International says both she and Latifa were targeted by hackers after they left the UAE which puts the governments of Saudi Arabia and Dubai firmly in the frame.
Princess Haya, the second wife of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, was among the 50,000 targets of the Pegasus hack, according to Amnesty International. She left him in 2019 and now lives in London with their children after fighting him at London’s High Court for custody
Runaway Princess Latifa was also targeted with Pegasus, which adds to the theory her father chased her down using her phone data after she tried to escape him in 2018
Others on the list of Pegasus targets include the widow of murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and American reporters for CNN, The AP, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal who work overseas, often reporting on corrupt governments.
NSO Group says it had nothing to do with any misuse of its product and that it is investigating its foreign government clients for abuses.
Amnesty International said in an announcement that Pegasus led to Latifa being recaptured, and that NSO made ‘is the spyware of choice for human rights abusers’.
‘These shocking revelations appear to implicate NSO Group in the catalogue of human rights violations inflicted on Princess Latifa and Princess Haya.
‘NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware potentially helped to strip Princess Latifa of her freedom – it may have given her captors the tools they needed to hack her phone and track her down.
‘It may also have been used to target Princess Haya and many of her associates, after she spoke out in support of Princess Latifa.
‘This proves once again that Pegasus is the spyware of choice for human rights abusers,’ Amnesty International’s Tech Director Rasha Abdul Rahim said.
Princess Haya, the sixth and youngest wife of billionaire Sheikh Mohammed Al Maktoum (pictured together at Ascot) left him in 2019. MailOnline previously revealed that she paid her British bodyguard lover (left) £1.2 million to keep their affair secret. They are all pictured together in 2018, a year before she fled
Princess Haya with her lawyer Fiona Shackelton at the High Court in London in February 2020. She fought for custody of their children and won. She also agreed with the media that the court’s findings should be made public to expose the UAE regime which she said was rife with human rights violations, which the Pegasus hack revelations compounds
Latifa was found aboard the yacht Nostromo off the coast of Goa, India, in March 2018 after a failed attempt to escape her father.
She begged to be shot when Indian commandos stormed the boat and seized her, yelling: ‘Shoot me here, don’t send me home!’
She had been helped by Hervé Jaubert, a former French naval captain and spy who had helped her escape from Dubai to Oman. It was previously revealed that the Indian authorities found the Nostromo by pinpointing the internet usage on Jaubert’s phone.
According to a USA Today report earlier this month, it was the FBI that inadvertently turned her over after they were contacted by the Saudi government which allegedly claimed she’d been kidnapped, but Amnesty International’s Pegasus claims cast doubt on that.
Her father maintains that he rescued her from kidnappers and that she has free will.
Princess Haya is the daughter of King Hussein of Jordan and his third wife Queen Alia and the half-sister of Jordan’s King Abdullah II.
She married into the Emirati in 2004 as the youngest of Sheikh Mohammed’s six wives.
In 2019, she fled Dubai with the two young children she shares with the Sheikh and sought asylum in Germany. She then went on to England.
Sheikh Mohammed, irate that she’d taken the children from him, filed proceedings to have them sent back and Haya fought them, taking their custody battle to the High Court.
She argued that if they were sent back, the couple’s 12-year-old daughter Jalila would be forced to marry against her will in an arranged marriage.
She also backed the media’s fight to have the court proceedings and judgement be made public.
Sir Andrew McFarlane, president of the family division of the High Court, agreed.
Latifa was found aboard the yacht Nostromo, sailing in the Indian Ocean, in 2018, after eight days at sea. The yacht is pictured
Latifa was found aboard the yacht Nostromo off the coast of Goa, India, in March 2018 after a failed attempt to escape her father and his kingdom. She begged to be shot when Indian commandos stormed the boat and seized her, yelling: ‘Shoot me here, don’t send me home!’=
He said the sheikh had waged a ‘media war’ against his wife since she left him, causing more than 1,000 articles to be published about her worldwide.
NSO Group claims it is on a ‘life-saving mission’ to combat terrorism
The public were under a false impression about Princess Haya and it needed to be corrected, he added.
‘The mother describes her life with the children over the past nine months as being one of ‘solitary confinement’ in which she and the children have been shunned and deserted by many, if not all, those who had, in happier times, been friends and, for the children, play companions,’ Sir Andrew said in his judgement.
Amnesty started investigating NSO and its software in 2018 after learning one of its staffers had been targeted.
It compiled a list of 50,000 phone numbers that were exposed to the malware. It’s unclear if all were compromised or if the numbers are just a list of potential targets.
Some of the reporters are named Financial Times editor Roula Khalaf, Siddharth Varadarajan and Paranjoy Guha Thakurta from Indian news site Wire Omar Radi, a Moroccan journalist, Mexican freelance journalist Cecilio Pineda Birto and Azerbaijani investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova.
In 2019, NSO Group reportedly contracted the SKDK – a PR firm run by Anita Dunn, one of President Biden’s advisers.
She did not immediately respond to DailyMail.com’s inquiries about the scope of her work with the firm.
Emmanuel Macron and World Health Organization (WHO) Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus are also on the list
Hanan El Atr, the widow of murdered Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi, was also targeted, according to the data
Financial Times editor Roula Khalaf was also among those whose phones were targeted
The journalists targeted included Ben Hubbard, the New York Times’ Beirut Bureau Chief (left) and Azam Ahmed, the Times’ Mexico Bureau Chief (right) along with other journalists based in India, the Morocco, Mexico and Azerbaijan.