Princess Haya of Jordan and her ex-husband Sheikh Mohammed are involved in a child custody case.
The High Court’s judgment said the ruler of Dubai ordered a hack on Haya’s phone.
After fleeing Dubai in 2019, she said she feels “hunted” and fears her children will be abducted.
Princess Haya of Jordan, as well as those who worked closely to provide her security and legal counsel since she fled Dubai to escape her husband Sheikh Mohammed in 2019, had their phones hacked with sophisticated spyware, a series of High Court judgments in the UK published on Wednesday said.
In the court’s findings, Sir Andrew McFarlane, President of the Family Division, wrote six mobile phones used by the princess, her lawyers, including her representative Baroness Fiona Shackleton, and her staff were subject to successful and attempted hacking.
The judgment went on to say the hacking was done via Pegasus software with the intention of carrying out “unlawful surveillance” in July and August 2020.
“The surveillance of the six phones that I have found was undertaken by Pegasus software was carried out by servants or agents of the father, the Emirate of Dubai or the UAE and that the surveillance occurred with the express or implied authority of the father,” said one of the High Court judgment conclusions.
This comes amid a high-profile custody battle between the princess and her ex-husband, the ruler of Dubai.
Sheikh Mohammed denied the court’s findings, Sky News reported, and released the following statement: “I have always denied the allegations made against me and I continue to do so. These matters concern supposed operations of State security.”
“As a Head of Government involved in private family proceedings, it was not appropriate for me to provide evidence on such sensitive matters either personally or via my advisers in a foreign court,” the statement continued. “Neither the Emirate of Dubai nor the UAE are party to these proceedings and they did not participate in the hearing. The findings are therefore inevitably based on an incomplete picture.”
Following the release of the High Court judgments on Wednesday, there have been calls among British lawmakers and several human rights groups for a full investigation into the hacking, The Guardian reported on Thursday.
Elsewhere in the series of judgments, McFarlane wrote that around the same time Princess Haya and her legal team became aware of the hacking, Sheikh Mohammed attempted, “through a family trust,” to buy an estate bordering her family home in Berkshire.
“Despite the mother’s lawyers, over a period of many months, persistently and directly asking the father, through his English lawyers, to confirm that he was not engaged in purchasing property near to hers, the father did not reveal details of the proposed purchase until the court required a straight answer to the question,” McFarlane wrote.
In an updated statement to the court, Princess Haya spoke about the impact of her former husband’s actions on her health, as well her fears his attempt to buy the neighboring estate is part of a “multi-faceted plan” to abduct the children and harm her.
“However much I have tried to shield the children from Sheikh Mohammed and his agents’ relentless attack, I have little doubt that the children have seen the toll these proceedings have taken on me,” she said.
“I do not feel that I can freely move forward as things stand now, while I am and feel hunted all the time, and I am forced to look over my shoulder at every moment of the day,” she added.
In March 2020, Insider’s Bill Bostock reported on a previous judgment handed down by McFarlane, which said prior to fleeing Dubai in 2019, the princess received anonymous death threats and that her ex-husband attempted to abduct her by helicopter to keep her in “a prison in the desert.”
Representatives for Princess Haya and Sheikh Mohammed did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
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