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Spyware Scandal: Kagame's Regime Targets Rivals with Pegasus Amid Election Tensions

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louis Buyisiwe

May 29, 2024

Rwanda's Opposition Figures Under Surveillance in Lead-Up to 2024 Elections

Despite their acquittal, Anne’s phone number was added to the Pegasus spyware list in February 2019. Pegasus, a tool by Israel’s NSO Group, allows remote phone infiltration. Forbidden Stories, part of the Rwanda Classified project, confirmed this targeting but couldn’t perform a forensic analysis on Anne’s device.
Anne Rwigara being held by Rwandan forces in Rwanda before her murder in The US

In a shocking revelation, a leaked list of phone numbers has exposed how Rwanda's President Paul Kagame used Pegasus spyware to track political opponents and members of his own party. Among the targets was Anne Rwigara, who died unexpectedly in California on December 28, 2023, at the age of 41.


Anne's death adds to the series of tragedies that have befallen the Rwigara family. In 2015, Assinapol Rwigara, Anne’s father, died in a mysterious car accident. In 2017, her sister Diane Rwigara, a presidential hopeful, was imprisoned alongside their mother on charges of fraud and inciting insurrection, only to be acquitted in December 2018.


Despite their acquittal, Anne’s phone number was added to the Pegasus spyware list in February 2019. Pegasus, a tool by Israel’s NSO Group, allows remote phone infiltration. Forbidden Stories, part of the Rwanda Classified project, confirmed this targeting but couldn’t perform a forensic analysis on Anne’s device.


Other notable figures targeted include former Justice Minister Tharcisse Karugarama, current Ambassador to Zimbabwe James Musoni, and Senior Presidential Advisor Professor Nshuti Manasseh. These revelations come as Rwanda prepares for the July 15 presidential elections, with Kagame expected to win again. Diane Rwigara, however, has announced her candidacy against him.


The Rwandan government denies using Pegasus, claiming the contract with NSO Group ended in 2021. Yet, Israeli sources and watchdogs like Citizen Lab suggest otherwise. The international community watches closely as Rwanda’s political landscape heats up.


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