Morocco spied on Emmanuel Macron with Israeli Pegasus software

The President of France, Emmanuel Macron, was one of the spy targets of the Israeli Pegasus software. This computer program was used by some states to spy on personalities and journalists, according to revelations released on Tuesday that also point to other world leaders. This past Monday, the media that revealed the scandal pointed out to the Mexican president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, as a target of the espionage carried out with the Pegasus program. López Obrador ruled out taking legal action.

The group of journalists Forbidden Stories and the association International Amnesty made public a list of 50,000 phone numbers selected since 2016 by clients of the Israeli group NSO, creator of Pegasus, for eventual surveillance. Both organizations then shared the list with a global consortium of 17 media outlets, among them The Washington Post, The Guardian and the mexicans Process Y Aristegui News, which revealed its existence on Sunday.

The newspaper The world Y Radio France, two members of the consortium, revealed this Tuesday that the number of the French president appeared “in the list of numbers selected by a security service of the Moroccan state”, user of Pegasus. “We found these phone numbers, but obviously we could not carry out a technical investigation of Emmanuel Macron’s phone” to verify if it is infected by this software, the director of Forbidden Stories explained to the LCI chain.

Therefore, “this does not tell us whether the president was actually spied on, but it does show in any case that there was an interest in doing it“Added Laurent Richard. «If the facts are confirmed, it is evident that they are very serious. We will clarify these press revelations, “the French presidency assured AFP when asked whether some states” potentially spied “on the head of state.

Kings, presidents and prime ministers

Morocco already rejected on Monday any involvement in this espionage matter, which also affects journalists and opponents. The Paris prosecutor’s office announced on Tuesday the opening of a espionage investigation French journalists from the Mediapart portal and the weekly Le Canard Enchaîné, by the Moroccan secret services.

According to Radio France and Le Monde, the former French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe he would also have been a target, as well as several French ministers and deputies. Beyond France, the king of Morocco, Mohammed VI, and their surroundings are also on the list of possible targets, according to the French public broadcaster.

The numbers of two other presidents, the Iraqi Barham Saleh and the South African Cyril Ramaphosaare also on the list, The Washington Post noted. The three prime ministers in office in Pakistan, Egypt and Morocco would have been targeted, as well as seven other former heads of government, including the Lebanese Saad Hariri and the Belgian Charles Michel, the newspaper added.

Mexico targets criminals

In Mexico, its president stressed this Tuesday, in his traditional press conference, that the espionage efforts of the current authorities point to the organized crime and not to opponents of the government. “What there is of intelligence has to do with fighting crime, it is to protect citizens, not to spy on opponents, or political leaders, party leaders, owners of large companies, the churches,” he said.

The telephones of relatives and collaborators of López Obrador, in power since December 2018, were allegedly intervened between 2016 and 2017 using said program, according to the revelations of Aristegui Noticias. Such interceptions occurred when the leftist president was leading the opposition to the president. Enrique Peña Nieto (2012-2018), of the once hegemonic PRI, according to this website.

However, the current president ruled out taking legal action on Tuesday, exhibiting a document that according to him shows that he had been spied on since the 1970s. Although the media group that investigates the plot assures that the Pegasus license in Mexico expired in 2017, López Obrador promised to verify that no entity continues to operate with that software.

In the list of telephones, the telephone number also appears. Cecilio Pineda, a Mexican reporter murdered in March 2017. Relatives of 43 students who disappeared in 2014 in Ayotzinapa and human rights defenders were also targeted. According to the investigations, in Mexico the system was used by the Cisen, a civil intelligence body attached to the government and dismantled by López Obrador, the Secretary of Defense and the former Attorney General’s Office (now Prosecutor’s Office).

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