Michael Burleigh at Literary Review:
Some of NSO’s human targets had already been beaten or tortured in, for example, Morocco (for oppositional activity or revealing property deals involving the royal family), where five thousand phones were invaded. In Mexico, where over 150 journalists (including those investigating drug cartels) have been murdered by both cartels and the police since 2000, fifteen thousand phone numbers were on NSO’s list. Among NSO’s targets in Mexico, alongside lawyers and journalists, were the driver, the cardiologist and the wife of the politician Andrés Manuel López Obrador (who was elected president in 2018), along with three of his children.
The intrepid authors needed to persuade individuals, who were often being harassed and persecuted, to allow experts to go into their phones in search of evidence of NSO activity. Once the telltale signs had been identified, and with the malware being traced back to suspiciously identical servers, Forbidden Stories shared its findings with the Washington Post, Le Monde, Die Zeit, The Guardian, Süddeutsche Zeitung and twelve other media outlets.