Dissidents working to support Bahraini political prisoners allege their laptops were hacked with spyware.
The High Court in London has ruled that Bahrain cannot claim state immunity to block a lawsuit brought in the United Kingdom by two dissidents who allege the Bahraini government hacked their laptops with spyware.
The ruling on Wednesday came after Saeed Shehabi and Moosa Mohammed accused the kingdom of infecting their computers with surveillance software called “FinSpy”, which allowed agents to take control of their laptops, access their files and monitor their communications.
The software also allows users to enable microphones and cameras on electronic devices to conduct live surveillance and to track their location, they said.
Shehabi and Mohammed, who both live in the UK, have said Bahrain infected their laptops with FinSpy in around 2011, which allowed the kingdom to monitor their work with political prisoners in Bahrain, and are seeking damages for psychiatric harm.
Bahrain has denied hacking Shehabi and Mohammed’s laptops and said they have provided no evidence of how their computers were alleged to have been infected.
The kingdom had argued it was entitled to state immunity because any alleged hacking did not take place in the UK and that the psychiatric injuries claimed did not amount to personal injuries, for which there is an exception to state immunity in English law.
But Judge Julian Knowles on Wednesday dismissed Bahrain’s application, meaning Shehabi and Mohammed’s case can proceed in London.
“This decision demonstrates that we can prevail in our fight for justice and that our voices will not be muzzled by the Bahraini regime’s reprisals or intimidation,” Mohammed said in a written statement.