The consortium of journalists behind the Pegasus Project investigation into malware from Israel-based NSO Group won the top European Union journalism prize Thursday. The group provided further evidence that the malware was used to spy on journalists, human rights activists and political dissidents.
The European Parliament said in a statement that the “unprecedented leak of more than 50,000 phone numbers selected for surveillance by the customers of the Israeli company NSO Group shows how this technology has been systematically abused for years.”
The list was obtained by the Paris-based journalism nonprofit Forbidden Stories and the human rights group Amnesty International and shared with 16 news organizations.
Journalists were able to identify more than 1,000 individuals in 50 countries who had allegedly been selected by NSO clients for potential surveillance.
They included 189 journalists, more than 600 politicians and government officials, at least 65 business executives, 85 human rights activists and several heads of state, according to The Washington Post, a consortium member.
The journalists work for organizations such as The Associated Press, Reuters, CNN, The Wall Street Journal, Le Monde and The Financial Times.
Journalists who work for VOA and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty also appeared to have been targeted, the research found.
The European Union’s inaugural prize of 20,000 euros (around $23,000) is named after Daphne Caruana Galizia, a Maltese investigative journalist who was killed in a car bomb attack four years ago.