The Journalists’ Association of El Salvador (APES) this Friday condemned the alleged espionage and violation of communications by journalists and activists in the Central American country before the Attorney General of the Republic (FGR).
“The public prosecutor’s office must carry out its investigative work and demonstrate the independence that the body must have in such situations,” demanded César Castro Fagoaga, President of the APES, according to the newspaper “La Prensa Gráfica”.
According to him, “they want to pressure them to censor themselves and not investigate, but at this stage of opacity, more investigation is needed.”
The undersecretary of the United States Department of State’s Office for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Brian Nichols, also commented on his Twitter account, noting that the information about alleged spying by journalists and activists from El Salvador was “very concerning”. be. He also stressed the importance of “free speech and independent media are essential to any democracy”.
Amnesty International (AI) on Thursday confirmed the use of Pegasus spyware, developed by Israeli company NSO, to monitor journalists in El Salvador, after Salvadoran media professionals and society leaders issued warnings in November about “state-sponsored” espionage had received.
That was revealed by a joint investigation by Access Now and Citizen Lab, which indicated that independently verified “abusive” use of the program was happening “on a large scale” in the Central American country.
The research sample included several journalists from two media companies. Forensic analysis confirmed that each device was infected with NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware. The first signs of an attack on the devices in the sample appeared around July 30, 2020. Signs of a threat or attempted attack persisted through November 15, 2021.
AI stressed Thursday that the human rights situation in the country had “accelerated” from deteriorating since President Nayib Bukele took office in 2019.
In early December, El Salvador’s Vice President Victor Ulloa said he “didn’t know anything” about the alleged espionage. Developed by Israeli company NSO, Pegasus software became the focus of controversy when an investigation by The Washington Post newspaper last August revealed a list of 50,000 phones from around the world that could be attacked by the software. Among the users of these phones are journalists, activists and business people.
It is used to gain access to the cellphones of terrorists, human traffickers or pedophiles, but Amnesty International and other human rights organizations say it has been used for other purposes by governments as well.