London’s High Court ruled that Dubai’s leader Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum ordered the hacking of the phones of his ex-wife and those close to her amid custody battle over their children.
Timeline and findings made in the English courts:
June 2000 – Sheikha Shamsa, daughter of Mohammed and his Algerian wife Huriah Ahmed al M’aash, flees from her family while on holiday in England. Two months later she is abducted from the streets of Cambridge and taken back to Dubai.
2004 – Mohammed, the ruler of Dubai and vice president of the United Arab Emirates, marries Princess Haya bint al-Hussein, half sister of Jordanian King Abdullah. They go on to have two children.
2018 – Sheikha Latifa, Shamsa’s younger sister who tried to run away from her family in 2002, attempts to escape again. Armed Indian coast guards board the boat she was on 20 miles off the coast of India in international waters. Those on board are taken to Dubai.
2019 – Haya, who had begun an affair with her British bodyguard at some stage in 2017 or 2018, flees Dubai with her two children, having become fearful for her life.
She later discovers that Mohammed had divorced her on under sharia on February 7, the 20th anniversary of the death of her father, King Hussein.
On May 14, 2019 Mohammed begins legal action at the High Court in London seeking to have the children returned to Dubai. Mohammed and Haya issue a statement saying the case did not concern divorce or finances but was limited to their children’s welfare.
March 2020 – After a series of hearings held in private, senior judge Andrew McFarlane ruled that he accepted as proved a series of allegations made by Haya.
These included that Mohammed was responsible for the abductions of Shamsa and Latifa, and they remained deprived of their liberty. The judge also concluded the sheikh had subjected his ex-wife to a campaign of intimidation which put her in fear of her life.
July 2020 – Agents working for Mohammed exploit a vulnerability in Apple’s iPhone to use the Pegasus software made by Israel’s NSO Group to hack the phones of Haya and 5 other aides.
May 2021 – McFarlane rules that it was “more probable than not” the sheikh was responsible for the hacking.