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Russian Journalist's Phone Hacked with Israeli Spyware, Researchers Reveal

In a recent development, researchers have uncovered that a prominent Russian journalist had her phone compromised using Israeli spyware.

Galina Timchenko is a prominent figure in Russia's independent media scene and the co-founder of Meduza.
Credits: REUTERS

This revelation highlights the growing trend of phone hacking tools being used to spy on media workers and opposition figures worldwide.

The joint investigation conducted by Canadian internet watchdog Citizen Lab and digital rights group Access Now revealed that Galina Timchenko, the co-founder and publisher of independent Russian news outlet Meduza, had her phone infected with spyware developed by the Israeli company NSO Group.

The infection is believed to have started around February 10, 2023, although the researchers did not identify the party responsible for deploying the spyware.

At the time of the hack, Timchenko was in Berlin. Media defense groups have strongly condemned this alleged surveillance, with the Committee to Protect Journalists emphasising that "journalists and their sources are not free and safe if they are spied on." Timchenko herself described the hacking as leaving her feeling "like I'd been stripped naked in the town square."

In response to the allegations, NSO Group stated that it "always investigates credible allegations of misuse." However, the company did not provide any information regarding whether an investigation has been initiated in this particular case or offer any examples of past investigations.

NSO Group has faced repeated accusations from researchers, lawmakers and journalists of assisting governments in spying on political opponents and undermining independent reporting. In fact, the U.S. government blacklisted the company in 2021 due to concerns over human rights.

Galina Timchenko is a highly prominent figure in Russia's independent media landscape. After being fired as the editor of a popular Russian news website for clashing with the authorities, she went on to establish Meduza in Latvia. The outlet has since become a significant source of news, particularly during Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

This revelation of a Russian journalist's phone being hacked with Israeli spyware underscores the concerning trend of surveillance targeting media professionals and opposition figures. The incident has sparked widespread condemnation and calls for greater protection of journalists and their sources.

  • A leading Russian journalist, Galina Timchenko, had her phone compromised using Israeli spyware, according to researchers.

  • The infection occurred through spyware developed by the Israeli company NSO Group.

  • Media defense groups have condemned the surveillance, highlighting the importance of protecting journalists and their sources.

  • NSO Group has faced previous accusations of assisting governments in spying on political opponents.


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