This website uses cookies

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience. By using our website, you agree to our Privacy Policy

High Court grants permission for journalist's legal case against UAE's alleged spyware use

High Court grants permission for journalist's legal case against UAE's alleged spyware use


Rania Dridi, a Tunisian-British journalist receives High Court approval to pursue legal action against the UAE for Pegasus spyware intrusion

Rania Dridi, a journalist and former activist known for her involvement in the Tunisian revolution of 2011, has been granted permission by the High Court in London to initiate legal proceedings against the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The case revolves around the alleged use of Pegasus spyware to infiltrate her mobile phone, marking a significant development in the realm of digital surveillance and transnational repression.

The court's decision comes after an application filed by the digital surveillance and transnational repression team at Leigh Day, a prominent law firm. By granting permission to serve the claim on the UAE government, the High Court acknowledges the existence of an arguable case against the UAE, paving the way for further legal scrutiny.

Rania Dridi, a British citizen of Tunisian origin, works as a journalist and presenter for Al Araby Television Network, covering various Middle Eastern affairs. She asserts that her mobile phone was targeted and hacked multiple times between October 2019 and July 2020, allegedly as part of a broader hacking campaign targeting media outlets such as Al Jaseera and Al Araby TV. Citizen Lab, a prominent digital rights research group, identified her phone as a target of Pegasus spyware, tracing the origins of the hacking activity back to operators based in the UAE.

The use of Pegasus spyware enables extensive surveillance capabilities, including real-time monitoring of device locations, intercepting voice calls, retrieving files, capturing photos and videos, and more. Rania's legal claim encompasses allegations of misuse of private information, harassment, and trespass to goods, stemming from the intrusive nature of the spyware's activities.

Rania's pursuit of justice mirrors similar legal battles, such as that of Ghanem al-Masarir, who is pursuing a case against the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia over the use of spyware. Her determination to hold state actors accountable for violations of privacy and personal freedoms underscores the importance of legal accountability in safeguarding fundamental rights.

In her statement, Rania Dridi emphasises the significance of standing up against transnational repression and upholding the principles of justice and freedom. She urges fellow journalists, human rights activists, and political dissidents to take action against invasive state practices, stressing the importance of legal recourse and collective efforts in achieving justice and preserving freedoms.

Ida Aduwa, senior associate solicitor at Leigh Day representing Rania, commends her client's courage and resilience in confronting state defendants. Aduwa highlights the pervasive and intrusive nature of Pegasus spyware used by governments to target civil society members, emphasising the importance of challenging such practices through legal means.

The High Court's decision to greenlight Rania's case marks a significant step towards holding governments accountable for digital surveillance abuses. As the legal battle unfolds, it underscores the ongoing struggle to protect privacy rights and uphold democratic principles in the face of increasingly sophisticated forms of state-sponsored surveillance.