The Emir of Dubai (United Arab Emirates), Mohammed sin Rashid al Maktum (70), ordered the espionage of his ex-wife, Princess Haya of Jordan (46), using Pegasus military technology of manufacture Israeli, according to a sentencing Judge of the High Court in London. The emir gave permission to agents working under him to hack the mobile phone of the princess, who fled to London in May 2019 with her two youngest children, Jalila and Zayed, aged 13 and 9. The operation also included the motive of lawyer Fiona Shackleton, responsible for the legal representation of Haya during the divorce proceedings launched under British jurisdiction. The use of Spyware Pegasus, designed under license by NSO Group, is only authorized for intelligence personnel of sovereign states, in the fight against terrorism or organized crime. However, thanks to an investigation promoted by Amnesty International and the organization Citizen Lab, and published by media such as the British newspaper Guardian, it was recently learned that the technology has been used all over the world to spy on politicians, human rights activists or journalists (including EL PAÍS editorial staff). Although the revelation has prompted legal action in both the United States and Israel, the British judge’s conviction represents the first firm legal conviction related to this technology.
For the Emir of Dubai, vice-president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates, a friend of Queen Elizabeth II and a regular at the Ascot horse race, it’s an added embarrassment to a story that includes the kidnapping of two of his daughters. , and an intimidation campaign against his ex-wife that included death threats. ‘It is more likely than not’, concluded High Court Family Section Chairman Andrew McFarlane, that the hacking of Haya’s mobile device ‘was carried out by agents or servers at the father’s orders. , the Emir of Dubai, and that the espionage was done under his express or tacit authorization.The magistrate refers in his decision to the “father”, because the decision is included in the legal process which elucidated the custody and maintenance of the two minor children.
McFarlane also points out in his decision, parts of which were made public on Wednesday, that Haya’s attorney, Shackleton, was warned about the possible hacking of his and his client’s cellphones by two colleagues. One of them was Cherie Blair, a lawyer and wife of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. While advising NSO on human rights issues, the lawyer received a notification from its administrators, in which they expressed concern about the use of their technology in Haya’s cell phones and Shackleton. The lawyer, known as the “steel magnolia” for her firmness and charm, has represented clients such as Charles of England, during his divorce proceedings with Lady Diana, or at old beatlePaul McCartney.
The judge concludes that at least six mobile devices were intercepted with Pegasus technology, and in the case of Princess Haya’s phone, “a fairly significant amount of information” could be extracted.
The Emir of Dubai has known up to six wives and has 30 children. His last wife, Princess Haya of Jordan, currently resides in London. She faces her husband in turbulent divorce proceedings, in which the judge has already confirmed that Mohamed Bin Rashid ordered the kidnapping of his daughter Latifa. And that of his sister Shamsa, forcibly detained in 2000 in the middle of the streets of the university town of Cambridge, in the United Kingdom, to be sent back to Dubai.
The United Arab Emirates, whose leaders wanted, in addition to being a tourist attraction, to be a place of finance and technological advances, has become in recent years an important player in the region, both because of its opposition to the Iran only because of its recent relationship with Israel. All of these advantages favored their international allies who preferred to look the other way when it came to the internal family affairs of their rulers. The revelations of recent months before the British courts on the maneuvers of the emir against his ex-wife and his two daughters have made this double standard practically untenable.
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