11 July 2024

Thai police deny that they have used Pegasus spyware to hack into the devices of anti-government elements, said Deputy National Police Spokesman Pol Col Krisana Pattanacharoen. This follows the recent release of a joint report, by iLaw, Digital Reach and Citizen Lab, which alleges that the spyware was used against Thai dissidents to monitor their online activity, the protests and to seek information about their sources of funding.

Insisting that Thai police have never resorted to the use of Pegasus spyware to break into the electronic device of any individual, Pol Col Krisana said, the police force has always complied with the law and performed their duties within its framework.

He said, however, that the police are duty-bound to enforce the law in the suppression and prevention of criminal offences, in maintaining peace and order to protect the life and property and to ensure national security.

According to iLaw, the use of Pegasus spyware occurred in 2020-21, when Thailand was mired in mass pro-democracy protests calling for major reforms. Dozens of people, including human rights activists, opposition politicians and academics, were allegedly targeted with spyware attacks.

These people claimed that, last November, they had received Apple emails warning them that they may have been the subjects of state-sponsored spyware attacks, which were eventually found to be Pegasus hackings.

The report has prompted Amnesty International to call on the Thai authorities to promptly investigate the matter, saying that “states have binding obligations under international law to not only respect human rights, but also to protect them from abuse by third parties, including private companies.”

In its statement issued on Monday, Amnesty suggested that laws enabling state surveillance, such as the Computer Crimes, Cybersecurity and National Intelligence Acts, should be amended to bring them in line with international human rights law, as well as implementation of safeguards to protect the right to privacy and freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly.