A legal action was taken against NSO Group in United States federal court Wednesday by some journalists from an investigative news outlet in El Salvador.

They sued after the Israeli firm’s Pegasus spyware was detected on their iPhones, reported the Associated Press.

Several journalists and human rights defenders in El Salvador had their phones repeatedly hacked with the spyware, University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab, an internet watchdog, reported in January. The list included journalists at the El Faro news site.

Carlos Dada, El Faro’s co-founder and director, issued a statement that was released by the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, which filed the lawsuit on behalf of the El Faro journalists. He said that these spyware attacks were an "attempt to silence our sources and deter us from doing journalism." He added that they were filing the lawsuit to defend their "right to investigate and report, and to protect journalists around the world in their pursuit of the truth."

According to the lawsuit, NSO Group violated U.S. law by developing spyware and deploying it against the journalists.

The Inquirer reported that the NSO Group is yet to comment about the lawsuit.

“The use of spyware to surveil and intimidate journalists poses a truly urgent threat to press freedom," said Carrie DeCell, senior staff lawyer with the Knight First Amendment Institute.

NSO was blacklisted by the U.S. government in 2021. It said that it sells its spyware only to legitimate government law enforcement. It also sells to intelligence agencies that are vetted by Israel’s Defense Ministry for use against terrorists and criminals. Back in January while responding to the Citizen Lab report, NSO said that it does not operate the technology once it is given to a client. It also said that it cannot know the targets of its customers.

NSO shared that the use of its tools to monitor journalists, activists or dissidents “is a severe misuse of any technology and goes against the desired use of such critical tools.” It also said that it had ended many contracts in the past due to client misuse.

Previously, a spokeswoman for the administration of Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele said that the government was not a client of the firm and had no link with Pegasus.

WhatsApp and Apple also have pending lawsuits against the firm in the same U.S. court, which is located in the Northern District of California.

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