EL SALVADOR PRESS
Miami, Jan 14 (EFE).- The Inter-American Press Association (IAPA) condemned this Friday the espionage of more than 30 journalists from El Salvador and called on the Government of Nayib Bukele to investigate the facts and adopt legal and juridical standards to curb the practice of cyberespionage, as well as that justice punishes those responsible.
According to forensic tests carried out by specialized cybersecurity laboratories, 37 mobile phones of journalists and civil organizations “were intercepted on a large scale between July 2020 and November 2021 through the use of Pegasus software.”
The Israeli company NSO Group, creator of the espionage program, maintains that it only sells the tool to governments, the IAPA, based in Miami (Florida, USA), said in a statement.
Jorge Canahuati, president of the IAPA, denounced that this is a “serious violation of press freedom” and reiterated the hemispheric organization’s rejection of “digital espionage against journalists from various media outlets in the Central American country.”
Cahanuati urged the Salvadoran government to urgently investigate the origin of this illegal action and to determine responsibility for this “violation of the privacy of communicators and their information sources.”
“The use of this program to spy on journalists violates the protection of journalistic sources and constitutes a serious crime that must be punished in accordance with national laws and legal principles that penalize these practices,” said Carlos Jornet, president of the IAPA’s Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information.
Jornet recalled that the Salta Declaration, of 2018, highlights in its article 7 the prohibition of cyber espionage methods: “The authorities must not use digital surveillance mechanisms to violate the freedoms and privacy of citizens, except in cases in which pursue a legitimate purpose in accordance with the provisions of the conventions on human rights”.
The IAPA has been denouncing the use of Pegasus software in El Salvador to tap journalists’ mobile phones and extract content from those devices.
In Mexico, thousands of phones were also “hacked” between 2016 and 2017.
Cyber espionage against the media and journalists is a method used by several governments in Latin America, according to the IAPA’s semi-annual press freedom reports.
At the general assembly in October 2021, the IAPA addressed the issue of cyberespionage against journalists through a panel in which experts from Amnesty International, Citizen’s Lab, and Mexican media analyzed new espionage technologies and their global impact.