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Al Jazeera journalist sues Saudi crown prince, UAE leader over phone hack

Prominent al-Jazeera TV news anchor Ghada Oueiss (Photo via Twitter)

A prominent anchor for Qatar-based Arabic-language Al Jazeera television news network has filed a lawsuit in a United States court against Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) and Abu Dhabi Crown Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan for allegedly hacking into her phone and stealing and doctoring images to disparage and intimidate her on social media.

Ghada Oueiss filed the case in the Southern District Court of Florida against bin Salman and bin Zayed, along with Saudi and Emirati officials as well as American citizens.

“Ms Oueiss brings this action against all Defendants, domestic and foreign, responsible for the unlawful hacking and dissemination of her personal information worldwide,” the court filing read.

It added, “Each actor must be held responsible for their unlawful actions and conspiracy against Ms Oueiss, and this lawsuit marks the beginning of a journey toward justice for Ms Oueiss.”

The lawsuit noted that Oueiss “earned the attention of the Saudi regime” after her reporting of the brutal murder of dissident Saudi Journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the kingdom’s embassy in Istanbul on October 2, 2018.

The court filing said that the campaign against Oueiss was a “premeditated attack, intended to destroy her reputation, personal life, and career,” and that she was targeted by an Emirati and Saudi “joint and coordinated effort.”

The Lebanese anchor says nearly 20 defendants orchestrated an operation aimed at harming her character and journalistic career because she critically reported Riyadh and Abu Dhabi's human rights abuses in the Middle East.

The defendants include Florida-based Sharon Collins and Hussam al-Jundi, who allegedly were responsible for hacking the phone of Oueiss and lifting images, including a video screenshot doctored to make her appear nude and disseminated on social media.

The complaint follows other accusations that Saudi Arabia’s ruling family coordinated efforts to hack into the Twitter accounts of dissidents, and that Mohammed Bin Salman was behind the hack of a phone belonging to founder Jeff Bezos in 2018.

Sarah Leah Whitson, former director of the Middle East and North Africa division of Human Rights Watch, wrote in a post published on her Twitter page that “MBS slammed with one more lawsuit in the US for his crimes against a journalist... GO Ghada! WE ARE WITH YOU.”

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