An Israeli woman uses her iPhone in front of the building housing the Israeli NSO Group, on August 28, 2016, in Herzliya, near Tel Aviv. NSO Group has been accused of facilitating surveillance of journalists through sales of its Pegasus spyware. (AFP/Jack Guez)

Journalists identified as possible targets of Pegasus spyware

The Torch is a weekly newsletter from the Committee to Protect Journalists that brings you the latest press freedom and journalist safety news from around the world. Subscribe here.

The Pegasus Project, a consortium of investigative reporters, revealed this week that at least 180 journalists are possible targets of Pegasus spyware, which is produced by the Israeli company NSO Group and marketed to governments around the world.

“This report shows how governments and companies must act now to stop the abuse of this spyware which is evidently being used to undermine civil liberties, not just counter terrorism and crime,” said Robert Mahoney, CPJ’s deputy executive director. “No one should have unfettered power to spy on the press, least of all governments known to target journalists with physical abuse and legal reprisals.”

Many countries suspected of spying are notorious for repressing the media, and CPJ reporting shows that some of the journalists targeted, or those connected with them, have faced arrest and physical violence in reprisal for their work. Earlier this year, CPJ launched a campaign highlighting the threats that spyware poses to press freedom, and this week reiterated a call for companies and governments to stem the abuse of spyware.

NSO has repeatedly told CPJ in the past that it licenses Pegasus to fight crime and terrorism.

New CPJ reporting sheds light on Pegasus Project revelations:

Global press freedom updates

  • Reuters photojournalist Danish Siddiqui killed in Afghanistan
  • Hong Kong police arrest former Apple Daily executive editor Lam Man-chung. Separately, Hong Kong Journalists Association found in its annual report that “fear and anxiety” rule among local journalists,
  • Obviously very chilling’: Peter R. de Vries killing shows the danger of Dutch crime reporting
  • Capital Gazette shooter found criminally responsible, while questions of justice linger
  • Brazilian journalist Jackson Silva survives shooting
  • Vietnam sentences journalist Pham Chi Thanh to 5.5 years in prison
  • Egyptian authorities detain journalist Abdel Naser Salama on terrorism and false news charges
  • Belarus police continue newsroom raids, target journalists’ association
  • Russian authorities ban investigative outlet Proekt as ‘undesirable,’ classify staff as foreign agents
  • Journalists harassed, obstructed while covering home demolitions in India
  • Malawi police beat, detain radio reporter Oliver Malibisa
  • Police fire tear gas, rubber bullets into crowd of journalists in Istanbul. Separately, CPJ sends letter to Turkish authorities calling for press card reform


The U.S. pullout from Afghanistan has left thousands of journalists, media workers, and their families at increased risk as the Taliban continues to advance throughout the country. As part of ongoing advocacy and assistance work, CPJ has joined a coalition of U.S. news and press freedom organizations in joint letters to President Joseph Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and Congressional leadership asking the U.S. government to provide humanitarian assistance and emergency visas to Afghans who have worked with U.S. media outlets.

CPJ has long advocated for countries to prioritize the issuance of emergency visas to allow journalists to flee danger in their home countries and seek temporary refuge until such threats subside.

What we are reading

Do you have an Amazon Alexa-enabled device? Enable CPJ's flash briefing skill to stay up to date with the latest press freedom news from around the world.