Mohammad “Moosa” Abd-Ali Ali sensed something was wrong when he looked down at the Facebook history on his phone. It was in 2011, during the time of the Arab Spring, and the app showed that he’d exchanged a series of messages with a friend. The messages asked his friend where she was, what the location and time of a planned meeting with a group of their friends was, and who would be at the meeting. Ali never sent those messages, though his friend did not know this. Quickly, he sent her an email letting her know he wasn’t the correspondent, but as soon as he got to a computer to log into his Facebook account, the phantom messages sent to his friend were gone. Ali had been a human rights activist in Bahrain, where he was arrested multiple times—first when he was 14 years old. After being tortured in detention, he was granted asylum by Great Britain in 2006 and has continued his activism there. Not long after the phantom Facebook messages, Ali discovered spyware on his computer—a powerful government surveillance tool called FinFisher made by the UK firm Gamma International.
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