The report on countries using Spyware was first published by The Washington Post and 16 other news organizations in July this year indicating that 50,000 phone numbers are vulnerable to Spyware attacks.
Pegasus is a spyware developed by the Israeli cyberarms firm NSO Group that can be covertly installed on mobile phones (and other devices) running most versions of iOS and Android.
Rwanda is among countries accused of using the spyware along with Mexico, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Hungary, Togo, Morocco, India, United States of America (USA), Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.
It is said that Rwanda might hack 3500 phone numbers using the technology.
During an exclusive interview with RBA held on Sunday 5th September 2021, Kagame was asked if Rwanda uses Pegasus which he refuted explaining that the country has never owned the technology.
As the report was released, Rwanda was also accused of using the technology to spy on the President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa.
Kagame said that some individuals are not happy with revitalizing Rwanda and South relations and wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to accuse Rwanda of using Pegasus.
The President stressed that Rwanda has been making clarifications on such false accusations since 2019 noting that the country will continue to demystify biased information.
“If you are saying do you spy with this tool? The answer is a big NO. We don’t have it; therefore, we don’t use it. Does Rwanda do spying? They don’t even have to ask me because they, as individuals or institutions, do spying. This story gained significance or prominence when the name of Rwanda was injected into the whole thing. Spying itself is as old as human beings. There are so many tools used by everybody in this world. But when Rwanda’s name is mentioned it’s for a reason,” he said.
“Why don’t you go to those people who created that spying tool and ask them? They will tell you those who have it and those who don’t have it and you’ll find out that Rwanda doesn’t have it. Of course it is to cause damage to Rwanda. It fits into the whole narrative that has been there for 27 years. We have gone through accusations of all kinds. We have had to explain ourselves. We will always do what we think is right for ourselves and explain things that are not true,” added Kagame.
Rwanda refuted similar allegations in 2019 after Facebook Inc accused NSO Group from Israel of using Pegasus spyware to hack people’s phones.
At the time, it was said that the country targets opposition figures and human rights activists.
Speaking to the media in 2019, President Paul Kagame explained that Rwanda does intelligence on enemies highlighting that the country can’t spend money to use that technology deemed costly.