French President Macron’s phone was targeted by Pegasus spyware

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French President Emmanuel Macron’s phone was on the list of potential targets of surveillance from Morocco in the Pegasus spyware case, French daily Le Monde reported on Tuesday. The French presidency said it would be “very serious” if the revelations about Macron’s phone proved to be true. The officials will examine them to shed all the necessary light on the reports.

Le Monde said that according to sources, a phone number of Macron, which he had been using regularly since 2017, is on the list of numbers selected by Moroccan intelligence service for possible cyber-espionage. Morocco issued a statement on Monday denying any involvement in the use of Pegasus and calling it “baseless and false allegations”. Moroccan officials were not immediately available for comment on Tuesday’s report about Macron. Le Monde said former French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe and 14 ministers were also targeted in 2019.

An investigation was published Sunday by 17 media organizations led by Paris-based non-profit journalism group Forbidden Stories. The published investigation states that spyware created and licensed by the Israeli company NSO was used in attempted and successful hacks to hack the smartphones of journalists, government officials and human rights activists globally.

The NSO issued a statement on Sunday, dismissing the reporting by media partners, saying it was “full of misconceptions and unconfirmed theories”. The product is intended for use only by government intelligence and law enforcement agencies to fight terrorism and crime. An NSO spokesman did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment on reports about Macron in Le Monde and other French media on Tuesday.

The Guardian, one of the media outlets involved in the investigation, said the investigation indicated “widespread and continued abuse” of NSO’s hacking software. It referred to it as malware that infects smartphones to extract messages, photos and emails, record calls, and secretly activate the microphone.

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