The Pegasus software of the Israeli company NSO Group was used by the Rwandan authorities to spy on the daughter of the opponent Paul Rusesabagina, according to the investigation carried out by a consortium of 17 international media of the Forbidden Stories network and the NGO Amnesty International. Introduced in a smartphone, this software allows you to retrieve messages, photos, contacts and even listen to calls from its owner. The Rwandan authorities have also reportedly spied on dozens of other opponents or political figures.
The data “strongly suggests that the Rwandan government was a client of NSO group”, according to investigators. Among those spied on is the daughter of the opponent Paul Rusesabagina, Carine Kanimba. Examination of his phone reveals “the first traces of infection at the end of January 2021”. But it is possible that attacks took place before, “some software having the capacity to erase their traces”, according to the journalists who carried out the investigations.
Asked by the Belgian daily Le Soir, Carine Kanimba, who lives in the suburbs of Brussels, says she is not surprised. Rwandan officials began to act as if they knew about all of his actions, she said. Belgian MPs, for example, were contacted by the Rwandan authorities shortly after providing support, even in private.
Congolese and Angolans in the list
Other Rwandan opponents and even personalities abroad have also reportedly been targeted by Rwanda. Among them, we find the asylum seeker Cassien Ntamuhanga in particular. He was arrested in Mozambique last May.
Politicians in the Great Lakes region are also on the list of those targeted by the spyware. Like Ruhakana Rugunda, who was still Prime Minister in Uganda a month ago, or Alain-Guillaume Bunyoni, Burundian Prime Minister. Also on the list: Congolese Lambert Mende and Albert Yuma, close to ex-president Joseph Kabila or the governor of Ituri province, Jean Bamanisa Saïdi.
The Rwandan Minister of Foreign Affairs asserts, for his part, that Rwanda does not use the Pegasus software. He denies the spying on the phone of Carine Kanimba or any activists, journalists, lawyers, political figures or others. “False accusations”, he said.