The ruler of Dubai has been authorized to hack the phones of his ex-wife and her lawyers with several million pounds of spyware during a legal battle over their two children, the High Court has found.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum gave his “express or implied right” to infiltrate with Pegasus spyware for the phone of his sixth wife, Princess Haya bint Al Hussein, which the court ruled.
Those working for her also tried to buy a mansion next to Haya’s property near London, which the court ruled was an intimidating action that left her feeling victimized, unsafe and as if she “now And can’t breathe”.
The Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, who had previously been found to be conducting a “campaign of fear and intimidation” against Princess Haya, authorized the use of Pegasus on Princess Haya’s lawyer, her personal assistant and two of her members. Security team found.
Last year, the court concluded that Sheikh Mohammed had kidnapped, abused and kept two of his daughters against his will.
The use of Pegasus, which is manufactured by NSO Group and sold exclusively to nation states, came to light last August when Cherie Blair tipped Princess Haya’s lawyer, Baroness Shackleton, that it had been hacked. , the court heard.
Mrs Blair, the wife of former Prime Minister Tony Blair and then NSO adviser, contacted the Conservative colleague – who had previously represented the Prince of Wales and Sir Paul McCartney – when she was told that the software could be “abused”.
NSO told the court that it could not reveal who its customers were, but confirmed that an unnamed customer’s contract had been terminated within weeks of the discovery.
On Wednesday, the high court published several decisions in the ongoing case between Sheikh Mohammed, 72, and Princess Haya, 47, the half-sister of Jordan’s King Abdullah II, their two children, Al Jalila, 13, and Zayed. , nine.
“The findings represent a total abuse of trust, and indeed an abuse of power to a significant extent,” said Judge Andrew MacFarlane, chair of the Families Division in England and Wales, in his ruling.
Sheikh had denied the hacking allegations, and his lawyers argued that other countries in the Middle East may be to blame.
His lawyer, David Panick, told the court: “The father has no knowledge of any such activity.” “They do not authorize or direct, encourage or in any way suggest that any other person should use NSO or any software in this manner.”
Mohamed and Haya have been involved in a long, bitter and costly custody battle as she fled the UK with her two children, 13-year-old Jalila and 9-year-old Zayed. She said she feared for her own safety as suspected she had an affair with one of her British bodyguards.
The British-educated princess said, “I don’t think I can move freely as things stand now, whereas I feel victimized all the time and I am forced to look over my shoulder at every moment of the day.” Is.” statement of a witness
The legal cost of the case has run into the millions of pounds, with some of Britain’s most prominent lawyers involved in the case. The cost of an appeal alone was cited by the court as a cost of £2.5m.
Sheikh initially sought to bring the children back to Dubai, but was repeatedly defeated in the courts.
In a ruling issued Wednesday, Judge MacFarlane ruled that the children must live with their mothers.
Additional reporting by agencies
Credit: www.independent.co.uk /