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Saturday, July 31, 2021

Macron’s phone identified for Pegasus spyware targeting: Report

A mobile phone number used by French President Emmanuel Macron was selected for possible targeting with Pegasus spyware by a Moroccan intelligence service, Le Monde reported Tuesday.

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It’s unclear whether the president’s phone was actually infected by the spyware and whether any information was extracted from it, the newspaper said.

The revelation came in the latest in a series of reports by an international consortium of media outlets and NGOs investigating the use of the spyware, made by Israeli company NSO.

A phone number belonging to European Council President Charles Michel was also selected for possible targeting, probably by Morocco, in 2019 when he was prime minister of Belgium, the investigative consortium also reported.

According to Le Monde, Macron’s phone number was on of a list of more than 50,000 seen by the consortium, which “means that a Pegasus customer was interested and considered a possible malware infection.”

In Macron’s case, his number was collected in March 2019 by an “operator within the Morrocan security services,” according to data analyzed as part of the consortium’s investigation.

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Asked about the issue by MPs on Tuesday, Prime Minister Jean Castex said that “the facts, if they are proven, are indeed very serious. We have therefore ordered investigations … that have not been completed and it is therefore not possible for me to express myself at this stage.”

The Elysée Palace also stressed the gravity of the information, if it proves to be correct. It said “all light will be shed on these press revelations.”

NSO said in a statement to the consortium that Macron “is not, and has never been, a target or selected as a target by NSO customers.”

Aside from Macron, then-Prime Minister Edouard Philippe and 14 members of the French government were also selected for possible targeting by the spyware, Le Monde said.

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(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by WCT staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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