The UAE and Saudi Arabia are long-term allies in the region, with reports that their Governments’ political opponents and human rights activists have been victims of Pegasus spyware attempts.
“When we found the No 10 case, my jaw dropped,” John Scott-Railton, a senior researcher at the Citizen Lab, told the New Yorker.
The other cyber security breaches of phones in the Foreign Office were linked to the UAE, India, Cyprus and Jordan.
The activity of sophisticated spycraft by the UK’s supposed allies means that the rulebook on what is “culturally acceptable” for spy agencies to do may need to be rewritten, Tobias Ellwood, chairman of the Defence Select Committee, told The Telegraph.
“What this reflects is the fast-changing ability for agencies to assess what both friends and foes are up to,” he said.
“It’s almost galloped ahead of what is culturally acceptable in terms of what is acceptable between allies.
He said that the pace of technology such as Pegasus means that we “need to be careful as to how capabilities are put to use in order to avoid alienating critical strategic alliances”.
He suggested that officials should raise India’s suspected involvement on this week’s visit.
“The Prime Minister may not raise this directly, but it would be appropriate for the National Security Adviser to raise this in the side meetings that are likely to take place.”
He added that while the rules of the use of spyware may have been agreed between the “Five Eyes” countries (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the US and the UK), these conversations “need to be done with India now”.
A government spokesman said: “We do not routinely comment on security matters.”
Last year, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the UAE’s prime minister and ruler of Dubai, was ordered to pay £550million to his ex-wife Princess Haya following a High Court judgment.