Kagame’s only regret in being caught hacking over 3,000 people’s cellphones is that he doesn’t have the financial means to hack more people

By David Himbara

General Paul Kagame is unapologetic about hacking over 3,000 people including fellow African leaders. By celebrating criminality, Kagame has confirmed what most people know about his regime – it is a mafia state engaged in all manner of criminality. Hacking is now added to extrajudicial killings, disappearances, stealing mineral wealth from DR Congo, and sending death squads abroad to murder Kagame’s exiled opponents.

General Paul Kagame was caught in the latest global scandal of deploying Pegasus spyware to hack over 3,000 cellphones. The consortium of media organizations looking into this matter have established that the hacking unleashed by Kagame took place mainly in 2019. Kagame’s victims included human rights defenders, journalists, political opponents, and African leaders.

The African leaders hacked by Kagame included President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, Uganda’s Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister, Ruhakana Rugunda and Sam Kutesa, respectively. In his press conference of November 9, 2019, Kagame was not apologetic for hacking cellphones. On the contrary, he regretted that he does not have the financial means to hack more smartphones. He said that the Pegasus spyware is too expensive. In reality, hacking is a criminal offence.

The NSO Group – the Israeli company behind the spyware maintains that their technology is intended for use only against criminals and terrorists. But the Pegasus Project initiated by the consortium of media organizations shows that it is being used by some governments including Rwanda to target journalists, activists and political opponents. The rogue governments are knowingly accessing cellphones without authorization. By celebrating criminality, Kagame has confirmed what most people know – his regime is a mafia state engaged in all manner of gangsterism. Hacking is now added to the criminality Kagame and his regime are known for – extrajudicial killings, stealing mineral wealth from DR Congo, and sending death squads abroad to murder Kagame’s exiled opponents.

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