NSO Group
NSO Group REUTERS/Amir Cohen/File Photo

Digital-rights researchers have concluded that the mobile phones of four Jordanian human rights activists were hacked over a two-year period with software made by the Israeli spyware company NSO Group, The Associated Press reported on Tuesday.

The findings by Front Line Defenders and Citizen Lab said at least some of the hackings appear to have been carried out by the Jordanian government.

Jordan denied the allegations. NSO had no comment on the findings, but said the monitoring of political activists by any client would amount to a “severe misuse” of its product.

The report, according to AP, identified the activists as Ahmed al-Neimat, an anti-corruption activist who it said has been banned by Jordan from working or leaving the country; human rights lawyer Malik Abu Orabi; and Suhair Jaradat, a female journalist and human rights activist. It said another female human rights activist and journalist was targeted, but asked to remain anonymous due to security concerns.

It said at least two of the targets appeared to have been hacked by operators “primarily focused on Jordan.” It said it identified two operators that were “likely agencies of the Jordanian government.”

The report is the latest in a series of reports linking NSO’s Pegasus spyware software to abuses by governments.

In February, the Finnish foreign ministry said it had detected Pegasus in several phones used by its diplomats abroad.

The Finnish announcement followed a report in The New York Times which said that former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu worked to ensure that Saudi Arabia would be able to use the Pegasus software, around the time that the Abraham Accords were signed with the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The US Commerce Department recently blacklisted NSO Group, prohibiting it from using American technology in its operations.

Apple sued the Israeli firm in late November, seeking a permanent injunction to ban NSO Group from using Apple software, services, or devices.