Researchers at Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto said it found that in July and August, at least four operatives used Israeli firm NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware to hack 36 personal phones of journalists, executives, anchors and producers.
According to the report, one of the four Pegasus operators, which acted on behalf of the Saudi government, hacked 18 phones, while another operator which is believed to have acted on behalf of the UAE, spied on 15 phones.
"The zero-click techniques used against Al Jazeera staff were sophisticated, difficult to detect, and largely focused on the personal devices of reporters," the report said.
The hacking campaign was discovered after a well-known investigative journalist for Al Jazeera's Arabic network, Tamer Almisshal who thought his phone had been compromised allowed the Citizen Lab to monitor his iPhone.
The researchers found that in July, his phone — without his knowledge — had visited a website used to infect a target with the Pegasus spyware.