It was serial espionage. Evidence of at least 23 spyware intrusions between 1 February and 10 July 2021 were identified on one of the phones used by Loïc Lawson, the publisher of Flambeau des Démocrates, a leading independent weekly in Togo. Freelance journalist Anani Sossou was the target of a similar attack on his phone a few months later, on 25 October 2021.
After several months of investigation, this was the conclusion of the technical analyses conducted by Digital Security Lab, an RSF forensic service for journalists that detects digital attacks on their phones.
The intrusions into the phones of these Togolese journalists were carried out by means of Pegasus, one of the world’s most powerful and effective spywares. It is sold by NSO Group, an Israeli company of which the Togolese government was a proven client at the time. The findings of RSF’s technical analyses were independently confirmed by Amnesty International’s Security Lab, which has identified many cases of Pegasus surveillance around the world and is regarded as a leading authority in this field.