UK court grants Saudi dissident ability to sue Saudi Arabia over alleged hack

UK court grants Saudi dissident ability to sue Saudi Arabia over alleged hack
© Getty Images

The United Kingdom's high court on Thursday granted a Saudi dissident in London the ability to sue Saudi Arabia over an alleged hacking, The Guardian first reported.

Ghanem Almasarir, a Youtuber and outspoken critic of the Saudi royal family, told The Hill on Thursday that two of his phones were hacked by Saudi Arabia "because I'm speaking up."

The case will now be handled by the U.K.'s foreign ministry, according to Almasarir.


These developments follow allegations that Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was behind the hacking of Amazon CEO Jeff BezosJeffrey (Jeff) Preston BezosThe new American center Kickstarter union seen as breakthrough for tech activism Hillicon Valley: Officials worry about Nevada caucus technology after Iowa | Pelosi joins pressure campaign on Huawei | Workers at Kickstarter vote to unionize | Bezos launches B climate initiative MORE's phone at the same time that Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed by Saudi operatives. Bezos owns The Washington Post.

Lawyers for Almasarir told the Guardian that the green light from the high court shows he has an "arguable" case.

“This is a rare case brought in this country against the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and we are pleased that the court has agreed that given the circumstances in this case, the targeting of an individual while he was living in the UK, they are prepared to enable us to serve the formal proceedings on the Saudi Government," Martin Day, a lawyer at the firm Leigh Day, told the outlet.

The lawsuit accuses the Saudi government of orchestrating a hack against two of Almasarir’s phones on June 23, 2018, just two months after the alleged hack of Bezos's phone.

“A vast amount of Mr Almasarir’s private information was stored and communicated on his iPhones," Almasarir's lawyers wrote in a letter of claim to the Saudi embassy last year obtained by the Guardian.

"This included information relating to his personal life, his family, his relationships, his health, his finances, and private matters relating to his work promoting human rights in Saudi Arabia.”

Almasarir told The Hill that his phones were examined by independent experts at the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab who found with a “high degree of confidence” that Saudi Arabia was behind the hack.

Saudi Arabia has denied it hacked Bezos' phone, but has yet to comment on this case.

--This report was updated at 6:40pm