Spyware Pegasus: Paris investigators start investigation, UN turns to USA

After new media revelations about the surveillance software Pegasus from the Israeli provider NSO, the Paris public prosecutor has launched an investigation. The reason is an advertisement from two journalists and the publishing company of the online platform “Mediapart”, as public prosecutor Rémy Heitz announced on Tuesday in Paris.

The investigation will be led by a special police unit for crime in information and communication technology. Among other things, the accusation of fraudulent acquisition and disclosure of data is concerned. An attack on privacy is also an issue.

Mediapart had reported that the cell phones of two journalists were targeted by the Pegasus software between 2019 and 2020 – Moroccan secret services were behind them, according to the allegation. After the revelations, Mediapart announced that it would be filing an ad. The public prosecutor did not comment on the allegations against Morocco.

According to media reports, oppositionists and reporters were spied on even more than expected with the surveillance software. Traces of successful or attempted attacks were discovered on 37 smartphones by journalists, human rights activists, their family members and business people, an international journalist consortium reported in a series of articles.

Pegasus uses security holes in smartphone software to gain extensive access to data. NSO dismissed the allegations against the Washington Post back and denied individual details from the reports.

They are also in the journalists’ consortium Southgerman newspaper, NDR, WDR and the time involved. According to their account, the research of the “Pegasus Project” suggests that hundreds of journalists, human rights activists, opposition activists and politicians were selected to be monitored with the spy software.

The numbers of more than 180 journalists from different countries are on the list. The daily newspaper The world According to the list, there were around 30 journalists and heads of media companies in France. France then announced an investigation.

In light of reports of the Pegasus software being spied on politicians, journalists and business people, the United Nations has reached out to the US government. One is in contact with the authorities of the host country, said spokesman Farhan Haq of the German press agency. He left open whether there was any information that Secretary General António Guterres or other high-ranking UN representatives were also affected.

“We regard any reported breach of communications by UN officials as a matter of concern,” Haq said. The secretariat will take all necessary measures to ensure the security of its communication systems.


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