Macron Calls for Probe After Being Targeted by Israeli Spyware Pegasus

Also on Wednesday, Luxembourg's Foreign Minister sends a letter expressing grave concern to local directors of units of Israeli spyware developer NSO

French President Emmanuel Macron speaks on his mobile phone during a round table meeting at an EU summit in Brussels last year.
French President Emmanuel Macron speaks on his mobile phone at an EU summit in Brussels last year. A phone associated with Macron was also reportedly selected as a target by an NSO client Credit: John Thys,AP

French President Emmanuel Macron has called for a series of investigations to be carried out into the Pegasus spyware case, Prime Minister Jean Castex told French TV channel TF1 on Wednesday.

The phone of Macron was on a list of potential targets for possible surveillance on behalf of Morocco in the Pegasus case, reported French paper Le Monde on Tuesday.

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The French presidency said that if the revelations about Macron's phone were true, they would be very serious. The authorities would investigate them to shed all necessary light on the reports, it said.

Also on Wednesday, Luxembourg Foreign Affairs Minister Jean Asselborn published a copy of a letter he sent to directors of Luxembourg-based units of Israeli company NSO expressing his grave concerns over allegations of espionage.

The letter also reminded the directors of the importance of adhering to Luxembourg laws and protecting privacy rights.

NSO has several units registered in Luxembourg, such as Q Cyber Technologies and Novalpina Capital Partners.

Forbidden Stories – a Paris-based journalism nonprofit – and Amnesty International had access to a leak of more than 50,000 records of phone numbers that NSO clients selected for surveillance. The leak was shared with Haaretz and 16 other news organizations worldwide that have worked collaboratively to conduct further analysis and reporting over past months.

Forbidden Stories oversaw the investigation, called the Pegasus Project, and Amnesty International provided forensic analyses and technical support.

According to an analysis of these records, more than 180 journalists were selected in 21 countries by at least 12 NSO clients. The potential targets and clients hail from Bahrain, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, India, Mexico, Hungary, Azerbaijan, Togo and Rwanda.

Amnesty International Security Lab conducted forensics analyses of cell phones targeted with NSO's Pegasus spyware. Their findings are consistent with past analyses of those targeted through NSO’s spyware, including the case of dozens of journalists allegedly hacked in the UAE and Saudi Arabia and identified by Citizen Lab in December of last year.

Pegasus partner Le Monde revealed on Tuesday that one of the phone numbers selected as a potential target was that of Macron. Their team of reports said that it was one of over 10,000 phone numbers selected by the Moroccan state security service, which is a client of NSO and its Pegasus spyware. Some 10 percent of those numbers were French, they found. Also potentially targeted by the software - but by a different client - was also the Morocco’s King Mohammed VI.

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