The 2015 Martin Ennals Award Laureate and Emirati human rights defender Ahmed Mansoor was the target of a major cyber attack

August 26, 2016

On August 10 and 11, Ahmed Mansoor received text messages promising him new details of torture in the UAE’s state prisons if he clicked on the links. If Mansoor had followed the link, his phone would have been jailbroken and implanted with a spyware : “Once infected, Mansoor’s phone would have become a digital spy in his pocket, capable of employing his iPhone’s camera and microphone to snoop on activity in the vicinity of the device, recording his WhatsApp and Viber calls, logging messages sent in mobile chat apps, and tracking his movements” reads Citizen Lab’s report.


Mansoor alerted security researchers. They discovered three previously unknown flaws within Apple’s code. When combined, those vulnerabilities allow for a remote jailbreak of an iOS device. Lookout wrote that this attack was “the most sophisticated spyware package” they had seen. This is not the first time Mansoor was targeted by spyware. It is the third attempt to compromise Mansoor, a high profile human rights defender.

Ahmed Mansoor is one of the few voices within the United Arab Emirates (UAE) who provides a credible independent assessment of human rights developments in the UAE. That a human rights defender was targeted in such a manner is completely unacceptable. He regularly raises concerns on arbitrary detention, torture, ill treatment, failure to meet international standards for fair trials, non-independence of the judiciary, and other violations of civil rights. He has been jailed for his efforts, and is currently unable to travel.

For more information, you can consult the following articles.…/Apple-boosts-iPhone-security-M… (comprehensive overview)…/million-dollar-dissident-iphone-z…/ (From the researchers who identified the vulnerabilities. Good summary followed by full technical analysis)