The Pegasus software from the Israeli company NSO Group was used by the Rwandan authorities to spy on the opponent’s daughter Paul Rusesabagina, according to the investigation carried out by a consortium of 17 international media from the network Forbidden Stories and NGO Amnesty International. This software is introduced in a smartphone and allows you to retrieve messages, photos, contacts and even listen to calls from its owners. The Rwandan authorities have also reportedly spied on dozens of other opponents or politicians.
The information “strongly indicates that the Rwandan government was a customer of the NSO group”, according to investigators. Among those being spied on is the girl by opponent Paul Rusesabagina, Carine Kanimba. The investigation of his phone reveals “the first traces of infection in late January 2021”. But it is possible that attacks took place earlier, “certain software that has the capacity to erase its tracks”, according to the journalists who conducted the investigations.
When asked by the Belgian daily Le Soir, Carine Kanimba, who lives in a suburb of Brussels, says she is not surprised. Rwandan officials began acting as if they knew about all his actions, she said. Belgian deputies, for example, were contacted by the Rwandan authorities shortly after giving him their support, including privately.
Congolese and Angolans in the list
Other Rwandan opponents and even personalities abroad have reportedly also been targeted by Rwanda. Among them we find asylum seeker Cassien Ntamuhanga above all. He was arrested in Mozambique in May last year.
Politicians in the Great Lakes region are also on the list of spy programs. Like Ruhakana Rugunda, who was still the Prime Minister of Uganda a month ago, or Alain-Guillaume Bunyoni, the Prime Minister of Burunda. The list also includes Congolese Lambert Mende and Albert Yuma, close to former President Joseph Kabila or the governor of Ituri province, Jean Bamanisa Saïdi.
For his part, Rwanda’s Foreign Minister claims that Rwanda does not use the Pegasus software. He denies spying on the phone by Carine Kanimba or any activists, journalists, lawyers, politicians or others. “False accusations”, according to him.