The Government of Rwanda has reaffirmed its position that the country does not use Pegasus spyware technology to target certain groups of people, including dissidents and so-called political activists.
In a brief statement attributed to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Dr. Vincent Biruta, who also doubles as a government spokesperson, Rwanda reiterated its position previously stated by President Paul Kagame, that the country does not use the Israeli security company NSO Group’s spyware to spy on people.
This follows the latest accusations by rights watchdog Amnesty International which in its latest Pegasus Project report alleges that Rwandan authorities use the technology to spy on thousands of activists, journalists and politicians, Carine Kanimba, the daughter of terror suspect Paul Rusesabagina.
“Rwanda does not use this software system, as previously confirmed in November 2019, and does not possess this technical capability in any form,”
“These false accusations are part of an ongoing campaign to cause tensions between Rwanda and other countries, and to sow disinformation about Rwanda domestically and internationally,” a brief statement sent to KT Press reads.
In November 2019, President Kagame said that Rwanda, like all countries, does intelligence on enemies to try and read ahead what might happen in future but it cannot go as far as using the said technology, which he also said he understands is costly.
“We have always tried to know our enemies and to know what they are doing, wherever they are, within the framework of our rights, and that is the right of all countries in the world …,”
“To be honest, I wish I could have access to this technology! But I also know it’s very expensive and I know there are better ways to spend my money. I won’t spend so much money on nothing, on people who don’t matter. No. I worry more about these people raiding the country in Kinigi and killing people. They’re what I’m interested in. So, this is completely insane,” President Kagame said of the accusations.
Amnesty International claims that the NSO Group’s spyware has been used to facilitate human rights violations around the world on a massive scale but the manufacturers of the software have strongly refuted the allegations.
A response from NSO published by the Guardian dismisses claims by Amnesty International, pointing out that the report is built on uncorroborated theories.
“NSO Group firmly denies false claims made in your report, many of which are uncorroborated theories that raise serious doubts about the reliability of your sources, as well as the basis of your story,”
“NSO Group has good reason to believe that claims that you have been provided with, are based on misleading interpretation of leaked data from accessible and overt basic information, such as HLR Lookup services, which have no bearing on the list of the customers’ targets of Pegasus or any other NSO products,” the group says.
NSO said such services are openly available to anyone, anywhere, and anytime, and are commonly used by governmental agencies for numerous purposes, as well as by private companies worldwide.
“It is also beyond dispute that the data has many legitimate and entirely proper uses having nothing to do with surveillance or with NSO, so there can be no factual basis to suggest that a use of the data somehow equates to surveillance.” NSO said.