According to a report on Tuesday by the French daily Le Monde, French President Emmanuel Macron’s phone call was listed on the list of potential surveillance targets on behalf of Morocco in the Pegasus spyware case.
The French president said that if the news about Macron’s phone call is true, it will be very serious. It said the authorities will investigate them to reveal all necessary reports.
Le Monde said that according to sources, one of Macron’s frequently used phone numbers since 2017 is on the list of numbers selected by Moroccan intelligence services for potential cyber spies.
Morocco issued a statement on Monday denying involvement in the use of Pegasus and rejecting the so-called “baseless and false accusations.” Moroccan officials could not be immediately reached for comment on Tuesday’s report on Macron.
Former French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe and 14 ministers were also targeted in 2019, Le Monde said.
An investigation published on Sunday by 17 media organizations led by the Paris-based non-profit news organization Forbidden Stories stated that spyware manufactured and licensed by the Israeli company NSO has been used to try and successfully invade the intelligence belonging to journalists Mobile phones, government officials and human rights activists around the world.
The National Bureau of Statistics issued a statement on Sunday to dismiss reports from media partners, saying it was “full of false assumptions and unproven theories.” It stated that its products are only used by government intelligence and law enforcement agencies to combat terrorism and crime.
On Tuesday, a spokesperson for the National Bureau of Statistics did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for comment on Le Monde and other French media reports on Macron.
Le Monde stressed that it cannot access Macron’s cell phone and therefore cannot verify whether it is indeed being monitored, but it can verify other phones, including the cell phone of the former Minister of Environment François Drugi, and can verify that the latter is being monitored. .
Also on Tuesday, the Paris Public Prosecutor’s Office launched an investigation into the allegations made by the investigative news site Mediapart and its two reporters, who accused Morocco of using Pegasus spyware to monitor them.
Mediapart said in a tweet: “The only way to find out the truth is for the judicial authorities to conduct an independent investigation into the extensive espionage activities organized by Morocco in France.”
The Paris prosecutor’s statement did not mention Morocco, only that it decided to investigate after receiving complaints from Mediapart and its reporters.
One of the media participating in the investigation, The Guardian, stated that the investigation showed that NSO’s hacking software was “widely and continuously abused.” It described it as malware that infects smartphones that can extract messages, photos and emails, record calls, and secretly activate microphones.
Shalev Hulio, the founder of NSO Group, told Tel Aviv Radio 103 FM earlier on Tuesday that the announced list of so-called Pegasus targets was “not related to NSO.”
“The platform we produce can prevent terrorist attacks and save lives,” he said in an interview.
Hulio stated that in its 11 years of existence, NSO has cooperated with 45 countries/regions and rejected nearly 90 countries/regions. He refused to reveal the names of any of them.
“I think that after we file a defamation lawsuit, this will eventually get a legal ruling in our favor in court because we have no choice,” he said.
© Thomson Reuters 2021