Saudi Activist Sues Americans Who Aided UAE Hacking

Loujain al-Hathloul, who led push for women to drive, was imprisoned and tortured
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 10, 2021 4:05 PM CST
Saudi Activist Sues Americans Who Aided UAE Hacking
Loujain al-Hathloul drives toward the United Arab Emirates-Saudi Arabia border before her arrest in 2014.   (AP Photo/Loujain al-Hathloul, File))

(Newser) – Three former US intelligence and military officers have admitted in a separate case that they helped the United Arab Emirates with hacking operations. Now they're being sued by a Saudi women's rights activist who says the assistance of the three men led to her iPhone being hacked by the UAE, the Guardian reports. The arrest of Loujain al-Hathloul followed, as did her imprisonment and torture in Saudi Arabia, the suit says. The hacking "was part of the UAE's campaign of persecution against perceived dissidents of itself and Saudi Arabia," says the filing entered in US District Court in Oregon.

Hathloul was released from prison in February but isn't allowed to leave Saudi Arabia. The suit was filed on her behalf by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit that announced the filing Thursday. She became known for her campaign pressuring the government to allow women to drive. When it succeeded, she was tried in a terrorism court after spending 1001 days in pre-trial detention and solitary confinement, charged with crimes including agitating for change, per the AP. The case sparked an international outcry, and President Biden has praised her as a "powerful activist for women's rights."

The three Americans, whom the Justice Department has said are former US military or intelligence personnel, worked for DarkMatter, which also is named in the suit. The cybersecurity company contracted with the UAE, which turned Hathloul over to Saudi Arabia, an ally. "Companies that peddle their surveillance software and services to oppressive governments must be held accountable for the resulting human rights abuses," said the foundation's David Greene. Marc Baier, Ryan Adams, and Daniel Gericke agreed in September with the Justice Department to pay almost $1.7 million to settle criminal charges over their involvement with the UAE. (Read more hacking stories.)

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