JK News Today
Human rights defenders in Pakistan are under threat from a targeted campaign of digital attacks, which has seen social media accounts hacked and computers and mobile phones infected with spyware, a four-month investigation by Amnesty International reveals.
In a new report titled Human Rights under Surveillance : Digital threats against Human Rights Defenders in Pakistan, Amnesty International, an internationally reputed human rights watch dog , reveals,” how attackers are using fake online identities and social media profiles to ensnare Pakistani human rights defenders online and mark them out for su
“We uncovered an elaborate network of attackers who are using sophisticated and sinister methods to target human rights activists. Attackers use cleverly designed fake profiles to lure activists and then attack their electronic devices with spyware, exposing them to surveillance and fraud and even compromising their physical safety,” said Sherif Elsayed-Ali, Director of Global Issues at Amnesty International.
“Our investigation shows how attackers have used fake Facebook and Google login pages to trick their victims into revealing their passwords. It is already extremely dangerous to be a human rights defender in Pakistan and it is alarming to see how attacks on their work are moving online.”
The report highlights the case of Diep Saeeda, a prominent Pakistani civil society activist from Lahore. On 2 December 2017, one of Diep’s friends, Raza Mehmood Khan, a peace activist who tried to bring people from India and Pakistan together through activities like letter-writing, was subject to an enforced disappearance.
Diep began publicly calling for Raza’s release, including petitioning the Lahore High Court. Soon after, she began to receive suspicious messages from people claiming to be concerned about Raza’s well-being.
One Facebook user who claimed to be an Afghan woman named Sana Halimi, living in Dubai and working for the UN, repeatedly contacted Diep Saeeda via Facebook Messenger saying that she had information about Raza Mehmood. The operator of the profile sent Diep links to files containing malware called StealthAgent which, if opened, would have infected her mobile devices.