Ahmed Mansoor: The Man Behind the iPhone Hack by Secret Israeli Cyber Firm

© AP Photo / Jon GambrellHuman rights activist Ahmed Mansoor speaks to Associated Press journalists in Ajman, United Arab Emirates, on Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016.
Human rights activist Ahmed Mansoor speaks to Associated Press journalists in Ajman, United Arab Emirates, on Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016. - Sputnik International
Ahmed Mansoor, one of "the UAE five", was arrested for signing a pro-democracy petition calling for a new elected government in United Arab Emirates. Mansoor along with four other activists were jailed in 2011.

Mansoor, an engineer and blogger and member of Human Rights Watch was arrested along with a university lecturer and two online activists on charges of "insulting officials" which included the president, vice president and crown prince of the United Arab Emirates. They became known as the UAE Five and labeled "religious extremists" by state media for speaking out against the UAE in 2011.

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In October 2015, Mansoor won the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders. Mansoor, praised for raising concerns about human rights abuses, has since faced harassment and repeated death threats from supporters of the UAE government.

However Mansoor was unable to collect his award following the confiscation of his passport in 2011 and subsequent travel ban, despite being pardoned and released.

A statement issued ahead of the awards ceremony said Mansoor's absence marks, "a very disappointing position for the UAE, which is a country that prides itself as one of the hubs of international business and tourism in the Middle East, as well as a safe haven in the region."

"As a member of the UN Human Rights Council, which is running for a second term, we expect the UAE authorities to honor their obligations to uphold human rights and protect human rights defenders," the statement said.

Mansoor recorded a video message to be played at the ceremony in Geneva, noting his presence as a finalist shows "people that we have deep human rights issues that PR companies and a complex network of interests try to dismiss, or at least present as contrary to the reality."

Less than a year later, on 10 August 2016, Mansoor's iPhone had been subject to a malicious malware attack, exploiting vulnerabilities in Apple's iOS operating system in an attempt to hack into Mansoor's data using sophisticated spyware. Mansoor reported the link to internet watchdog, Citizen Lab, which on August 25 issued a report releasing information about the cyberattack.

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