Reuters reports on a secret Emirati intelligence program that targets Arab and foreign media figures and activists

Reuters published a report revealing that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) hired American hackers – formerly employed by US intelligence agencies – to spy on politicians, media figures, activists, and journalists. According to the report, the targeting of media figures started at the outbreak of the crisis between Qatar and the UAE and its allies through Project Raven – a secret Emirati intelligence program that spies on dissidents, militants, and political opponents of the UAE monarchy. Among the targets were the chairman of Al Jazeera Hamad bin Thamer Al Thani, Al Jazeera host Faisal al-Qassem, BBC Arabic host Giselle Khoury, as well as a British activist and several unnamed US journalists. The program uses a cyber weapon called Karma that breaks into iPhones by uploading the target’s mobile number or email, without the target having to click on any links, and provides access to photos, emails, text messages, and location. Reuters asked the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and their embassy in Washington, the US National Security Agency, and iPhone for comments but they all declined.