Saudi War on Critics

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Saudi War on Critics

by Stephen Lendman (stephenlendman.orgHome – Stephen Lendman)

Ruling Saudi regimes tolerate no opposition to their despotic rule. Many others like Jamal Khashoggi have been targeted, harassed, imprisoned or murdered to silence them.

Horrendous kingdom human rights abuses have gone on throughout Saudi history – the West and most other countries turning a blind eye to regime abuses too egregious to ignore.

Furor over Khashoggi’s murder may be over the US/UK intelligence community believing crown prince Mohammad bin Salman (MBS) is too reckless and untrustworthy to lead the kingdom when his father, king Salman, passes.

Reportedly, dozens of ruling family members want a change in the line of succession — backing prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz, king Salman’s younger brother (age-76), to succeed him.

Last week, Forbes magazine reported that Saudi war on “dissidents living aboard (is) more widespread than previously known…including insidious digital attacks in the months leading up to Khashoggi’s death,” adding:

Israeli Pegasus “super-stealth spyware” sold to the kingdom last year is used to secretly access cell phone (and likely online) information without clicking a link to do it.

Saudi satirist Ghanem Almasarir and political activist Yahya Assiri told Forbes how the kingdom digitally assaulted them.

Other attacks targeted an Amnesty International (AI) employee working on Saudi issues and Quebec-based activist Omar Abdulaziz “in frequent contact with…Khashoggi,” Forbes explained.

AI’s technology division deputy director Danna Ingleton said “(w)e have example, after example, after example of this software being used to harass and threaten activists around the world.”

Israel, the Saudis, likely US/UK and other Western intelligence, as well as other countries using the surveillance software falsely claim it’s to protect national security.

It’s designed for extrajudicial spying on anyone targeted. Forbes said it’s used by the repressive Mexican government against lawyers, representing parents of state-sponsored mass kidnapped and murdered children.

The spyware developed and produced by Israeli firm NSO Group Technologies is supposed to be used only by law enforcement agencies in authorized criminal investigations.

NGO executives actively seek customers like the Saudis, other despotic states, and Western ones to spy on their citizens and others illegally – apparently the software’s main use.

According to Forbes, it’s been sold to buyers in 45 countries worldwide, likely most often for illicit spying and espionage. Anyone communicating digitally by cell phone or online is vulnerable, a key way the NSA, CIA and FBI illegally spy on Americans and others abroad.

US, other Western intelligence, the Saudis, other despotic states, and other countries can spy on anyone anywhere digitally with sophisticated spyware like Pegasus.

Riyadh likely spied on Khashoggi this way by penetrating his cell phone and online communications before murdering him in Istanbul.

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Stephen Lendman
Stephen Lendman
Stephen Lendman was born in 1934 in Boston, MA. In 1956, he received a BA from Harvard University. Two years of US Army service followed, then an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in 1960. After working seven years as a marketing research analyst, he joined the Lendman Group family business in 1967. He remained there until retiring at year end 1999. Writing on major world and national issues began in summer 2005. In early 2007, radio hosting followed. Lendman now hosts the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network three times weekly. Distinguished guests are featured. Listen live or archived. Major world and national issues are discussed. Lendman is a 2008 Project Censored winner and 2011 Mexican Journalists Club international journalism award recipient.