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Pegasus: Princess Latifa campaigner joins possible legal action against NSO Group

David Haigh may sue Israeli company along with eight others allegedly targeted by the spyware
Princess Latifa attempted to escape Dubai in 2018 (Screenshot)

An associate of the emir of Dubai’s daughter has joined a group of potential claimants considering legal action after their mobile phones were allegedly targeted with spyware developed and sold by Israeli company NSO Group.

David Haigh, a British legal advisor to Princess Latifa bint Mohammed Al Maktoum, is considering bringing proceedings for breach of privacy.

He is joining with a group of eight other people who have asked a leading London law firm, Bindmans, to explore the possibility of suing for damages.

They include a member of the House of Lords, the upper house of the UK’s parliament, academics, human rights defenders and civil society activists, and Madawi Al-Rasheed, a professor at the London School of Economics and columnist at Middle East Eye (MEE).

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Bindmans says it is considering bringing proceedings against NSO Group and a private equity group, Novalpina Capital, which has invested in the firm, as well as a number of governments accused of using the spyware. It is setting up a crowdfunding campaign to help finance potential litigation.

The potential claims arise out of an investigation into a leaked batch of 50,000 telephone numbers suspected of being targeted by governments that had purchased NSO’s spyware, known as Pegasus.

The investigation was carried out by rights group Amnesty International’s Security Lab and journalists across 10 countries coordinated by a French NGO, Forbidden Stories.

Following the leak, the UK government said that it had repeatedly complained to the Israeli government about the use of Pegasus.

Haigh has been associated for some years with Princess Latifa, who is alleged to have been kidnapped by her own family.

After Amnesty International confirmed that it had found evidence that Haigh’s telephone had been infected with Pegasus, he said that he was “horrified” by the news and that he suspects the United Arab Emirates of being to blame.

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Princess Latifah’s father Shiekh Mohammed Rashid Al Maktoum is the UAE prime minister.

Haigh has reported the matter to UK police.

“Ultimately, what the Amnesty researchers have uncovered is an attack on human rights by a despotic regime,” he said.

NSO Group has said it will no longer speak to journalists about the Pegasus scandal.

Pegasus spyware is suspected to have been used to recapture Princess Latifa after she fled Dubai in 2018.

Indian and Emirati forces intercepted a boat on which they were travelling off the Malabar Coast, shortly after the telephone numbers of Latifa’s associates were added to the list that was subsequently leaked.

In a series of judgments, the High Court in London has found that Sheikh Mohammed was responsible for her abduction and that of her sister, Shamsa.

Sheikh Mohammed disputes the findings.