PARIS: The phone of French President Emmanuel Macron was on a list of potential targets for potential surveillance on behalf of Morocco in the Pegasus spyware case, French daily Le Monde reported yesterday.
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.
Le Monde said that, according to sources, one of Macron’s phone numbers, which he had used regularly since 2017, is on the list of numbers selected by Morocco’s intelligence service for potential cyber-spying.
Morocco denied any involvement in using Pegasus and rejecting what it called “unfounded and false allegations”. Former French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe and 14 ministers had also been targeted in 2019.
An investigation published on Sunday by 17 media organisations, led by the Paris-based non-profit journalism group Forbidden Stories, said the spyware, made and licensed by Israeli company NSO, had been used in attempted and successful hacks of smartphones belonging to journalists, government officials and human rights activists on a global scale.
NSO has rejected the reporting by the media partners, saying it was “full of wrong assumptions and uncorroborated theories”. Its product is intended only for use by government intelligence and law enforcement agencies to fight terrorism and crime, it said.
Le Monde stressed it did not have access to Macron’s phone and therefore could not verify if it was indeed spied upon, but it could verify other phones, including that of former environment minister Francois de Rugy, and was able to verify the latter was spied on.
The Guardian, one of the media outlets involved in the probe, said findings suggested “widespread and continuing abuse” of NSO’s hacking software.