Skyline International Condemns Pegasus Spyware Surveillance of Independent Russian Journalist Galina Timchenko
Stockholm: Skyline International expresses its profound concern over the distressing revelations unveiled in a recent investigation. On Wednesday, it was revealed that the mobile phone of Galina Timchenko, the head of the independent Russian news website Meduza, had been compromised by Pegasus surveillance spyware during her stay in Germany earlier this year.
This shocking development underscores the dire threats faced by journalists and media figures who courageously pursue truth and transparency in today's increasingly interconnected world. The intrusion into Ms. Timchenko's phone, orchestrated through the use of Pegasus spyware, raises grave concerns about the safety and security of journalists and their sources.
The investigation, conducted jointly by reputable organizations, including Meduza, Access Now, and Citizen Lab, has shed light on the circumstances surrounding this alarming breach of privacy. The timeline of events suggests that the infection occurred shortly after Russia's Prosecutor General labeled Meduza as an "undesirable" organization, a move that effectively banned the outlet from operating within Russia's borders. The duration of this intrusion may have extended over a span of several days or even weeks.
Notably, Apple had issued a warning in June to Ms. Timchenko and other potential targets, alerting them to the possibility of state-sponsored spyware compromising their devices. This timely alert prompted Meduza's editor-in-chief, Ivan Kolpakov, to seek assistance from Access Now in examining Ms. Timchenko's device.
Skyline International is deeply troubled by the fact that this incident marks the first documented case of Pegasus surveillance affecting a Russian journalist. The investigation's findings also suggest that the source of the attack could be traced back to Russia, one of its allies, or possibly an EU member state.
Ivan Kolpakov, editor-in-chief of Meduza, expressed profound disbelief at the notion that a European government might have employed Pegasus against Ms. Timchenko. This software, as claimed by its developers, purports to be a tool for counterterrorism but is alarmingly and systematically used against opposition figures and journalists.
Meduza, now operating in exile, has relocated most of its staff to Berlin and the Latvian capital, Riga. The news outlet continues to cover a wide range of critical topics, including politics, social issues, culture, and the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
Mr. Kolpakov expressed his hope for a thorough investigation to identify those responsible for this egregious breach and to demand explanations both from the perpetrators and from NSO Group, the entity behind the Pegasus spyware.
Previously, NSO Group claimed that it licenses Pegasus to combat crime and terrorism, pledging to investigate all credible reports of misuse and to take appropriate action, including revoking a customer's access to the software.
Skyline International, through its mission of promoting press freedom and protecting journalists and their sources, remains deeply committed to addressing the existential crisis posed by advanced "zero-click" spyware like Pegasus. Such technologies, which can take control of a device without user knowledge or interaction, threaten journalism and the future of press freedom worldwide.
Skyline International urges the NSO Group and the German Federal Ministry of the Interior to seek their comments on the findings related to Ms. Timchenko's case.