Targeted iPhones, Apple warns Thai activists of ‘government-sponsored attacks’

Among the at least 17 people in Thailand who said Apple had warned they were being targeted by “pro-state” assassins, these were Thai activists who called for the restoration of the monarchy. According to Panusaya May’s sister and Facebook page editor Arnon, warnings have been sent to prominent activists Panusuya Sithijirawattanakul and Arnon Nampa.

Dechathorn Bamrungmuang, a musician known as Hockhacker with the Rap Against Dictatorship group, said on Facebook he had also received an alert from Apple, and posted a screenshot of the message. The group’s music has targeted the monarchy and the military government, and Dechathorn faces accusations of rebellion.

A statement from Dechathorn stated: “Apple believes it is being targeted by government-sponsored attacks. communications, or even cameras and microphones. While this may be a false alarm, please take this warning seriously. ”

Minority high-profile activists who have worked after the events to support the opposition have reportedly received similar warnings, such as high school students.

They include Prajak Kongkirati, a political scientist at Thammasat University; Puangthong Pawakapan, political scientist at Chulalongkorn University; Piyabutr Saengkanokkul, opposition activist and general secretary of the Progressive Party; and Yingcheep Atchanont, of non-profit legal rights iLaw.

It is unclear how many people Apple has contacted. At least 17 people commented on social media or told the Supervisor directly that they had received the same messages.

Apple did not respond to a request for comment. We do not know how the alleged attack took place.

Separately, Apple announced this week that it had filed a lawsuit against the NSO Group, claiming that its Pegasus software had been used to “attack a small number of Apple users worldwide with malicious malware and spyware”.

The Pegasus project, investigated into the NSO by the Guardian and other media companies controlled by the French media group The Forbidden History, has documented dozens of cases where NSO spyware was used to attack iPhone users.

Thailand’s digital ministry could not be reached for comment.

Elia Fofi, a Thai activist, said she received an email from Apple at 4am on Thursday, followed by an SMS message around 11pm. He said he did not consider himself a top performer, but other pro-democracy activists working after you have also contacted Apple.

The activists were not intimidated by the messages, Elijah said. “We have nothing to fear. What we say, what we think, what we fight for is the most common thing ever. We did not carry out a terrorist attack. ”

But he said the attack on their privacy was an attack on the privacy of the public at large. “People will be afraid to talk about things they want to talk about in private,” he said.

Last year a wave of youth protests broke a long-term taboo perfect for the reforms of the monarchy, a school that was previously thought to be off limits. Protesters called for the monetary budget to be reduced and demanded that the king stay out of politics. They also called for the ouster of Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, a former prime minister who first came to power in a coup.

At least 1,636 people have been charged in connection with their political activities or political expression since protests escalated in July 2020, according to Thai human rights lawyers. More than 150 people are facing serious criminal charges, which could result in up to 15 years in prison.

Nattacha Boonchaiinsawat, an MP with the opposition Move Forward, called on Prayuth to explain whether the government was involved in the attacks. “I would also like to ask the digital minister how the government is protecting the Thai people and how to take action against those behind the attacks. This is not a personal matter but it is a national security where the government should take responsibility and protect the people. ”

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