Tag Archives: Saudi Arabia

Pegasus project: spyware leak suggests lawyers and activists at risk across globe

19/07/21

Rodney Dixon, a lawyer who has taken on human rights cases was selected for targeting in 2019

Leaked records show dissidents and those who help them prominent among those under threat from NSO spyware

A leak of phone data suggests human rights lawyers, activists and dissidents across the globe were selected as possible candidates for invasive surveillance through their phones.

Their mobile phone numbers appeared in leaked records, indicating they were selected prior to possible surveillance targeting by governmental clients of the Israeli company NSO Group, which developed the Pegasus spyware.

The records were obtained by the nonprofit organisation Forbidden Stories and shared with a consortium of media outlets including the Guardian.

NSO has repeatedly said Pegasus, which can access all data on a target’s device as well as turn it into an audio or video recorder, is meant for use only against terrorists and serious criminals.

The selection of activists, dissidents and journalists by NSO clients paints a very different picture, though one that campaigners will say was grimly predictable given the tool has been sold to some of the world’s most repressive regimes.

[…]

The lawyers at risk from surveillance

Lawyers also feature heavily in the leaked data.

Rodney Dixon, a prominent London-based lawyer, who has taken on numerous high-profile human rights cases, was selected for targeting in 2019. Forensic analysis of his device showed Pegasus-related activity but no successful infection.

His clients have included Matthew Hedges, a British doctoral student jailed in the UAE, and Hatice Cengiz, the fiancee of the murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. She was also targeted with Pegasus, with forensics showing evidence of a successful infection.

Dixon said: “No one should be targeted in this fashion. For lawyers it is particularly concerning as it violates the fundamental principles of lawyer-client privilege and confidentiality, which are central to fair and just legal proceedings.”

Forensic analysis on the phone of the French human rights lawyer Joseph Breham shows it was compromised multiple times with Pegasus in 2019, and the leaked records suggest he had previously been selected for potential targeting by Morocco.

[…]

https://www.theguardian.com/news/2021/jul/19/spyware-leak-suggests-lawyers-and-activists-at-risk-across-globe

https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-57881364

https://www.thequint.com/news/india/pegasus-activists-journos-lawyers-accused-in-elgar-parishad-case-also-tagged

https://www.theguardian.com/news/video/2021/jul/19/pegasus-the-spyware-technology-that-threatens-democracy-video

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1896746/world

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pegasus_(spyware)

https://www.lemonde.fr/projet-pegasus/article/2021/07/18/projet-pegasus-revelations-sur-un-systeme-mondial-d-espionnage-de-telephones_6088652_6088648.html (FRANCAIS)

https://www.lemonde.fr/projet-pegasus/article/2021/07/19/projet-pegasus-comment-la-societe-israelienne-nso-group-a-revolutionne-l-espionnage_6088692_6088648.html

https://www.francetvinfo.fr/monde/proche-orient/disparition-d-un-journaliste-saoudien/enquete-le-projet-pegasus-un-logiciel-espion-utilise-par-des-etats-pour-cibler-des-politiques-des-journalistes-des-avocats-y-compris-des-francais_4707199.html

Saudi Arabia: Arrested in April 2019 lawyer Abdullah al-Shehri released pending trial

05/03/21

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https://alqst.org/en/prisonersofconscience/abdullah-al-shehri

https://www.gc4hr.org/news/view/2111

#G20SaudiArabia: Saudi Arabia using G20 for Reputation Laundering

19/11/20

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We won’t let Saudi leaders hide their grave human rights abuses behind the G20 

Why does the Saudi Arabian government want to host the G20? It is part of their public relations strategy to whitewash their human rights abuses and launder their reputation. G20 leaders awarded the G20 presidency to Saudi Arabia for 2020 despite the Saudi government’s unrelenting assault on fundamental freedoms, including jailing and harassing government critics and human rights activistsunlawful attacks in Yemen, and flouting of international calls for justice for the murder of journalist, Jamal Khashoggi. Saudi Arabia will virtually host the G20 World Leaders’ Summit on November 21-22. Through this event, the Saudi government is trying to make the public forget about their human rights abuses. Don’t let them get away with it. 

The authorities should free the detained Saudis who stood up for human rights, including Loujain al-Hathloul, Nassima al-Sadah, Samar Badawi, Waleed Abu al-Khair, Salah al-Haidar and Abdulrahman al-Sadhan.  

[…]

https://www.hrw.org/G20SaudiArabia

https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2020/11/g20-leaders-dont-buy-the-spin-saudi-arabias-real-changemakers-are-in-jail/

https://menarights.org/en/caseprofile/saudi-lawyer-waleed-abu-al-khair-arbitrarily-detained-april-2014

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waleed_Abulkhair

https://www.hrw.org/ar/G20SaudiArabia (ARABIC)

https://www.hrw.org/fr/G20SaudiArabia (FRANCAIS)

https://www.amnesty.fr/liberte-d-expression/actualites/leaders-du-g20-les-vrais-porteurs-de-changement-en-arabie-saoudite-sont-en-prison

https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waleed_Abu_al-Khair

https://www.latinpress.es/defensoras_en_arabia_saudi.html (ESPANOL)

https://www.jornaldenegocios.pt/economia/mundo/detalhe/amnistia-internacional-pede-a-lideres-do-g20-para-pressionarem-arabia-saudita (PORTUGUES)

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LAWYERS IN DANGER: THREATS TO ADVOCATES WORLDWIDE

10/11/20

Lawyers in Danger: Threats to Advocates Worldwide | The Advocate, November 2020

The independence and safety of lawyers are increasingly threatened around the world. Lawyers in too many countries are vilified, criminalized, imprisoned, threatened, attacked, or murdered simply for doing their lawful work of upholding their clients’ rights. In 2020, volunteers from Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada (LRWC) are monitoring the situations of lawyers and other human rights defenders (defenders) in dozens of countries.

Countries of major concern to LRWC in 2020 are China, Turkey, the Philippines, Colombia, and Saudi Arabia. This year, LRWC volunteers have raised concerns about lawyers and defenders in these and other countries, including at the UN Human Rights Council.[2] LRWC is also monitoring situations of lawyers in many other countries, including challenges to international human rights in North America.

LRWC increasingly engages with the UN human rights system through its UN consultative status received in 2005. LRWC also publishes numerous reports and manuals,[3] including a 2020 book, Attacking Defenders: The Criminalization of Human Rights Advocacy.[4] LRWC, a volunteer-run organization, is launching a drive for memberships of Canadian lawyers to secure independent financial support for LRWC’s work to meet the growing demand for LRWC experience developed over two decades.

INDEPENDENCE AND SAFETY OF LAWYERS UNDER THREAT: EXAMPLES

China: Lawyers and defenders arrested, disappeared, and tortured

China claims to uphold the “rule of law,” but its aggressive promotion of “human rights with Chinese characteristics” fails to conceal egregious and systematic human rights abuses, including surveillance, harassment, criminalization, enforced disappearance, unlawful detention, and torture of dissidents, ethnic and religious minorities, activists, and lawyers.[5] The litany of violations includes disturbing allegations of mass atrocities.

[…]

Day of the Endangered Lawyer – January 24th

https://the-advocate.ca/emag/issues/2020/november/page_68.html

Saudi Arabia: One year after Khashoggi killing, activists honour his legacy by continuing to fight for freedom of expression.

October 2, 2019

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One year since the extrajudicial execution of Jamal Khashoggi, Saudi citizens are honouring Khashoggi’s legacy by pursuing the fight for their inalienable right to freely express themselves, despite the authorities’ continuing crackdown and the absence of any meaningful signal to hold accountable those responsible for Jamal Khashoggi’s killing, Amnesty International said today.

“Any talk of assuming responsibility for Jamal Khashoggi’s killing is meaningless if not met with the immediate and unconditional release of dozens of individuals who continue to languish in prison, and who continue to be at risk of torture and other ill-treatment, solely for having expressed their opinion in a peaceful manner,” said Lynn Maalouf, Middle East Research Director at Amnesty International.

To date, Amnesty International has documented the cases of at least 30 prisoners of conscience who are behind bars serving prison sentences of between five and 30 years solely for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly. Amongst those currently detained are Mohammad al-Qahtani, a founding member of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association who called for the protection and promotion of human rights and provided legal support to families of detainees, and Waleed Abu al-Khair, a lawyer who defended human rights defenders before his imprisonment. Mohammad al-Qahtani and Waleed Abu al-Khair were tried and sentenced before the counter-terror court to 10 and 15 years in prison, respectively, for their peaceful human rights work.

Marking the first anniversary since Jamal Khashoggi’s extrajudicial execution, Saudi Arabian activists abroad – supported by Amnesty International – are launching a podcast series called “The Great Saudi Arabia”, focusing on different human rights issues affecting the country. The first series focuses on the story of Jamal Khashoggi. At the heart of this initiative is the activists’ desire to demonstrate to everyone in Saudi Arabia and the world at large that extreme measures of repression will not stop them from expressing their views, tell their own stories and continue their fight for the release of other human rights defenders who are paying a hefty price for speaking out.

https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2019/10/saudi-arabia-one-year-after-khashoggi-killing-activists-honour-his-legacy-by-continuing-to-fight-for-freedom-of-expression/

https://www.amnestyusa.org/press-releases/one-year-after-khashoggi-killing-saudi-activists-honor-his-legacy-by-continuing-to-fight-for-freedom-of-expression/

http://www.abajournal.com/web/article/imprisoned-saudi-lawyer-receives-this-years-international-human-rights-award

https://www.hrw.org/news/2019/04/15/saudi-arabia-5-years-activist-still-behind-bars

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waleed_Abulkhair

https://www.amnesty.org/fr/latest/news/2019/10/saudi-arabia-one-year-after-khashoggi-killing-activists-honour-his-legacy-by-continuing-to-fight-for-freedom-of-expression/ (FRANCAIS)

https://www.hrw.org/fr/news/2019/04/15/arabie-saoudite-cinquieme-annee-de-prison-pour-lactiviste-waleed-abu-al-khair (FRANCAIS)

https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waleed_Abu_al-Khair (FRANCAIS)

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Saudi Arabia/Canada: Advocates ‘internationalize’ the fight to free Raif Badawi from Saudi prison

August 18, 2019

More than seven years after Raif Badawi was thrown in prison, lawyers and allies of the Saudi blogger are increasingly lobbying foreign governments in an effort to secure his release as Saudi Arabia prepares to host next year’s G-20 meeting.

Irwin Cotler, a human rights lawyer and former federal justice minister who represents the family internationally, says advocates for Badawi have recently been meeting with foreign governments, UN representatives and others to encourage them to call for the release of Badawi, his sister Samar, their former lawyer Waleed Abulkhair and other imprisoned human rights defenders.

Cotler sat down with The Canadian Press to discuss the intensifying effort to free the 35-year-old Badawi, who was arrested on June 17, 2012, and was later sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in jail for his online criticism of Saudi clerics.

Cotler said it is urgent “to both internationalize and intensify our advocacy” as Saudi Arabia chairs the G-20 ahead of the meeting in Riyadh in November 2020.

That effort appeared to yield results last month when U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence called on Saudi Arabia to free Badawi as well as three other jailed dissidents.

The four dissidents, Pence said, “have stood in defence of religious liberty and the exercise of their faith despite unimaginable pressure, and the American people stand with them.”

Advocates ‘internationalize’ the fight to free Raif Badawi from Saudi prison

Raif Badawi case: Efforts to free jailed blogger continue after 7 years

https://www.uscirf.gov/news-room/press-releases-statements/uscirf-vice-chair-nadine-maenza-calls-release-imprisoned-saudi

Mike Pence’s call for Raif Badawi’s release from Saudi prison a shot in the arm for dispirited wife

http://www.abajournal.com/web/article/imprisoned-saudi-lawyer-receives-this-years-international-human-rights-award

https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2019/07/how-saudi-arabia-makes-dissidents-disappear

https://thehill.com/policy/international/middle-east-north-africa/455776-saudi-arabia-frees-us-citizen-after-nearly-two

http://www.ludovictrarieux.org/uk-page3.callplt2015.htm

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waleed_Abulkhair

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raif_Badawi

https://ici.radio-canada.ca/nouvelle/1265068/arabie-saoudite-priso-ben-salmane (FRANCAIS)

https://www.les-crises.fr/le-lobby-pro-saoudien-aux-etats-unis-par-rene-naba/ (FRANCAIS)

http://www.ludovictrarieux.org/fr-page3.remplt2015.htm (FRANCAIS)

https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waleed_Abu_al-Khair (FRANCAIS)

https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raif_Badawi (FRANCAIS)

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USA/Saudi Arabia: Imprisoned Saudi lawyer receives this year’s ABA International Human Rights Award

August 8, 2019

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A human rights lawyer who was convicted on anti-terrorism charges and sentenced to 15 years in prison—simply for calling for the rule of law in Saudi Arabia—will receive the 2019 ABA International Human Rights Award during the ABA Annual Meeting in San Francisco.

Saudi lawyer Waleed Abu al-Khair founded Monitor for Human Rights, one of the only human rights organizations in Saudi Arabia, in 2008, according to an ABA press release. He dedicated his legal career to defending human rights and the right to freedom of expression, and pushed for an elected parliament, independent judiciary, constitutional monarchy and other reforms in his country.

“Abu al-Khair epitomizes the ideals of what lawyers around the world are fighting for,” ABA President Bob Carlson told the ABA Journal. “His efforts defending vulnerable clients, advocating for an independent judiciary and democratic reforms in Saudi Arabia literally cost him his freedom.

“The ABA hopes this award may highlight his situation and bring prominence to the noble causes he supports.”

Abu al-Khair was banned from representing some defendants in courts in 2009, but still represented Samar Badawi, a Saudi woman and human rights activist who was jailed after her father accused her of disobedience under their county’s male guardianship system, the following year. Badawi was released after Abu al-Khair shared details of her case in blogs and on Twitter and Facebook.

They married, and Badawi advocated for Abu al-Khair’s release until she was rearrested in 2018.

Abu al-Khair also represented Badawi’s brother, Raif, a blogger who was arrested in 2012 after establishing the Free Saudi Liberals website. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 blows with a cane.

Abu al-Khair’s 2014 arrest and conviction largely stemmed from comments he made to the media and on social media that criticized Saudi Arabia’s human rights record, discussions of human rights in his home and his defense of activists who were punished for criticizing the government, according to Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.

The human rights organizations say the specific charges against him included disobeying the ruler and seeking to remove his legitimacy; insulting the judiciary and questioning the integrity of judges; setting up an unlicensed organization; harming the reputation of the state by communicating with international organizations; and preparing, storing and sending information that harms public order.

His full 15-year sentence was upheld by a Saudi appeals court in 2015 after he refused to apologize for the alleged offenses. He is currently in the Dhahban Central Prison in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

http://www.abajournal.com/web/article/imprisoned-saudi-lawyer-receives-this-years-international-human-rights-award

http://www.abajournal.com/web/article/2019-aba-annual-meeting-what-can-you-expect

https://www.americanbar.org/news/abanews/aba-news-archives/2019/06/saudi-lawyer-waleed-abu-al-khair-to-receive-2019-aba-internation/

Abu al-Khair to receive ABA Award

https://www.hrw.org/news/2019/04/15/saudi-arabia-5-years-activist-still-behind-bars

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waleed_Abulkhair

http://hourriya-tagheer.org/15934 (ARABIC)

https://www.hrw.org/fr/news/2019/04/15/arabie-saoudite-cinquieme-annee-de-prison-pour-lactiviste-waleed-abu-al-khair (FRANCAIS)

http://www.ludovictrarieux.org/fr-page3.remplt2015.htm (FRANCAIS)

https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waleed_Abu_al-Khair (FRANCAIS)

#FreeWaleed

China/The Philippines/Saudi Arabia/Turkey: Statement: Attacks on lawyers in China, Philippines, Saudi Arabia and Turkey

July 2, 2019

Statement: Attacks on lawyers in China, Philippines, Saudi Arabia and Turkey

On 1 July 2019, Lawyers for Lawyers together with Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada and the Human Rights Institute of the International Bar Association delivered a joint oral statement to the Human Rights Council on the attacks on lawyers in China, Philippines, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. The statement was delivered during the 41st session of the Council.

 

The statement reads as follows:

Mr. President,

In countries where lawyers are imprisoned and prosecuted for defending rights, there is no equal access to justice or protection of rights.

In China, numerous human rights lawyers have been disappeared, arbitrarily imprisoned, tortured, or disbarred. In Saudi Arabia, lawyer Waleed Abu al-Khair is one of hundreds of rights defenders arbitrarily convicted and detained. In Turkey, 311 lawyers have been arbitrarily convicted and detained since July 2016. In the Philippines, 40 jurists are among the “staggering number” of victims of extrajudicial killings since July 2016. Last month, eleven Special Procedures mandate holders called for an independent investigation of grave abuses in the Philippines.

We urge Council to:

Statement: Attacks on lawyers in China, Philippines, Saudi Arabia and Turkey

Saudi Arabia/USA: Saudi lawyer Waleed Abu al-Khair to receive 2019 ABA International Human Rights Award

June 21, 2019

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The American Bar Association announced today that it will honor Saudi lawyer Waleed Abu al-Khair with its 2019 ABA International Human Rights Award in recognition of his work to advance human rights and advocate for justice in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The award will be presented during a dinner at the ABA Annual Meeting in San Francisco, August 8, 7:30 p.m. at the Westin St. Francis Hotel.

The International Human Rights Award was established to honor and give public recognition to a lawyer, human rights luminary or international human rights organization that has made an exceptional contribution to the advancement of human rights outside of the United States. The award is given on behalf of the ABA Center for Human RightsSection of International LawSection of Civil Rights and Social JusticeSection of Litigation and Rule of Law Initiative.

Abu al-Khair is the founder of Monitor for Human Rights, one of only a few human rights organizations in Saudi Arabia, which he established in 2008, just a year after he began practicing law. As an attorney, Abu al-Khair dedicated his career to defending human rights and the right to freedom of expression, even after government authorities banned him in 2009 from representing specific defendants in courts. Abu al-Khair also used his legal background to advocate for an elected parliament, independent judiciary and other democratic reforms in Saudi Arabia.

https://www.americanbar.org/news/abanews/aba-news-archives/2019/06/saudi-lawyer-waleed-abu-al-khair-to-receive-2019-aba-internation/

https://www.hrw.org/news/2019/04/15/saudi-arabia-5-years-activist-still-behind-bars

Abu al-Khair to receive ABA Award

https://www.gc4hr.org/news/view/2159

http://www.abajournal.com/web/article/2019-aba-annual-meeting-what-can-you-expect

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waleed_Abulkhair

https://www.hrw.org/fr/news/2019/04/15/arabie-saoudite-cinquieme-annee-de-prison-pour-lactiviste-waleed-abu-al-khair (FRANCAIS)

https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waleed_Abu_al-Khair (FRANCAIS)

Saudi Arabia/UK: Protest at Saudi Embassy to support detained rights lawyer Waleed Abu Al-Khair

April 26, 2019

5 Years On, Saudi Arabian Activist Waleed Abu al-Khair Still Behind Bars

https://www.facebook.com/events/428158044656205/

http://www.ludovictrarieux.org/uk-page3.callplt2015.htm

HRW calls on Saudi Arabia to release human rights lawyer

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waleed_Abulkhair

Saudi Arabia Executes 37 in One Day and Escalates Crackdown on Dissent

https://www.middleeasteye.net/opinion/saudi-arabia-executions-cruel-travesty-justice

HRW calls on Saudi Arabia to release human rights lawyer | RTNews24

HRW calls on Saudi Arabia to release human rights lawyer | RTNews24

http://www.ludovictrarieux.org/fr-page3.remplt2015.htm (FRANCAIS)

https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waleed_Abu_al-Khair (FRANCAIS)

#FreeWaleed