Journalists spied on by ‘hack for hire’ gang

  • 08 Nov 2022

Concerns raised over digital security as a new investigation uncovers journalists’ private messages have been accessed by hackers.

The National Union of Journalists has joined the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) in condemning the hacking of journalists’ private communications, breaching protections under the European Convention on Human Rights.  

Email accounts of more than 100 people were accessed after private investigators used a ‘hack for hire’ Indian based gang to spy on journalists from the BBC and The Sunday Times, as well as lawyers and UK government ministers. The hackers were following orders of investigators from autocratic states and major law firms.

Hacking was revealed following an undercover operation by the Sunday Times and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, who contacted Indian hackers and captured secret footage discussing their work and revealing the extent of illegal computer hacking cross the City of London.

Tim Dawson, chair of the IFJ's expert group on surveillance, said:

“This is a wake-up call to all journalists. No one can be complacent about digital security. Robust password practices, caution with smartphones, and eternal vigilance are required if the integrity of our work is not going to be undermined”.

Anthony Bellanger, IFJ general secretary, said:

“For some years the IFJ has called for robust international regulation of the technology that allows snooping on journalists, be it by governments, commercial interests, or those with a grudge to settle. The ability of journalists to protect their sources underpins the operation of a free press. Its loss would seriously undermine the vital work of journalists to hold the rich and powerful to account."


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