The French daily Le Monde reported on Tuesday that in 2019 Emmanuel Macron’s mobile number and the phones of 14 ministers in office at the time were selected for possible surveillance using Pegasus spyware. Morocco was to issue the order to follow the President of France.
In 2019, the mobile phone number of French President Emmanuel Macron and the phones of 14 ministers in office at the time were selected for possible surveillance using Pegasus spyware, the daily Le Monde reported on Tuesday. The Elysée Palace, contacted by the French daily, said that if this “very serious” information was confirmed, the possible surveillance of the president and members of the government would be the subject of a very thorough investigation.
The journalistic organization Forbidden Stories, which was the first to investigate the use of spyware created in Israel, also announced that Emmanuel Macron was included in the target list.
Forbidden Stories director Laurent Richard, who generally confirmed Le Monde’s information, stipulated that whether President Macron was in fact under surveillance can only be confirmed through a technical analysis of his cell phone. However, he stressed in an interview with LCI that regardless of whether Macron was “under surveillance or not”, analyzes showed that “there was an interest” in such an assignment.
According to Le Monde and Reuters, the president’s phone number has been identified as a potential target for Morocco’s infiltration. Edouard Philippe, the then prime minister of France, was also among the people who could possibly be under surveillance using Pegasus in 2019, “Le Monde” reports.
Numbers “infected” by Pegasus
The numbers of the president and members of the French government have been included in the list of 50,000 numbers that have been analyzed in an investigation by Forbidden Stories and Amnesty International. The results of the investigation were shared by these organizations with 16 editorial offices, including the newspapers Le Monde, Guardian and Washington Post.
Forbidden Stories and Amnesty International’s analysis showed that the appearance of a given phone number on the list means that the Pegasus customer has expressed an interest in tracking its owner by infiltrating the phone, “Le Monde” explains. In most cases, technical analysis showed that these numbers were “infected” by Pegasus shortly after being on the list. Sometimes it only took a few seconds, reports the French daily.
Pegasus producer NSO Group released a statement on Tuesday saying President Macron “is not and has never been the target of (an attack), nor have they been targeted by NSO customers.” An Israeli company accused of sharing data with authoritarian regimes maintains that its software is only used to obtain information against criminals and terrorists.
Infliltrated journalists and politicians
Earlier on Tuesday, the Paris prosecutor’s office announced that it had launched an investigation into spying on French journalists. As reported, the infiltration of their phones was carried out with the help of Pegasus software at the request of the Moroccan authorities. In France, the targets included journalists from Mediapart, the newspapers “Le Monde” and “Le Figaro”, the satirical weekly “Le Canard Enchaine”, AFP and various French TV channels.
According to an investigation by a journalistic consortium released on Sunday, the Pegasus software tracked at least 180 journalists, 600 politicians, 85 human rights activists and 65 business leaders from different countries. Pegasus introduced to the smartphone allows you to download messages, photos, contacts, and even listen to its owner’s calls.
Pegasus and the Polish services
About the The Pegasus system could also be used by the Polish services we wrote in previous years. In 2018, on the tvn24.pl portal, we revealed that the Central Anticorruption Bureau received money from the Justice Fund, which is the responsibility of the Minister of Justice Zbigniew Ziobro, and allocated it to the purchase of the most modern telephone and computer surveillance system.
In 2019 reporters of the program “Black on the White” determined that the system bought by the anti-corruption service was probably the Israeli Pegasus. – It is a tool for very strictly targeted attacks – explained then in an interview with “Black and White” Adam Haertle from the Trusted Third Party portal.
Main photo source: LUDOVIC MARIN / PAP / EPA