The UK High Court has ruled against Bahrain in a spyware case
Two dissidents in Bahrain allege that the Bahraini government installed spyware on their laptops, and the High Court of London has ruled that Bahrain cannot claim state immunity to block the lawsuit in the United Kingdom.
Saeed Shehabi and Moosa Mohammed claimed that agents in the kingdom infected their computers with surveillance software called “FinSpy,” giving them remote access to their devices and allowing them to snoop on their files and communications. On Wednesday, a judge sided with the men and issued a ruling in their favour.
They also claimed that the programme could be used to monitor users in real time by turning on microphones and cameras on their electronic gadgets.
Shehabi and Mohammed, two British nationals who work with political prisoners in Bahrain, claim that the kingdom of Bahrain infected their laptops with FinSpy around 2011, allowing it to spy on their activities. They are now suing for damages for psychological distress.
In response to accusations that they hacked Shehabi and Mohammed’s laptops, Bahrain has said that the two men have offered no proof of how their computers became infected.
Because the alleged hacking did not occur in the United Kingdom, the kingdom argued it was entitled to state immunity; furthermore, the psychiatric injuries claimed did not amount to personal injuries, which is an exception to state immunity under English law.
On Wednesday, however, Judge Julian Knowles denied Bahrain’s request, clearing the way for Shehabi and Mohammed’s case to move forward in London.
According to a statement released by Mohammed, “this decision shows that we can prevail in our fight for justice and that our voices will not be muzzled by the Bahraini regime’s reprisals or intimidation.”