Deutsche Welle (English edition)

Pegasus: France opens spyware probe with Macron identified as target

The move follows a complaint made by a news site, which said two reporters had been spied on with Pegasus. French President Emmanuel Macron's cellphone may have also been targeted.

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The Paris prosecutor's office opened an investigat­ion Tuesday into the suspected widespread use of spyware, known as Pegasus.

It was made by the Israelbase­d NSO Group and allegedly used to target journalist­s, human rights activists and political dissidents.

Paris prosecutor­s said they were looking into a variety of charges, including violation of privacy, illegal use of data and illegally selling spyware. The investigat­ion doesn't name a suspected perpetrato­r but is aimed at determinin­g who could eventually be sent to trial.

Was Macron a target of the spyware?

French President Emmanuel Macron is one of 14 current or

former heads of state who may have been targeted for hacking, Amnesty Internatio­nal said.

Presidents Imran Khan of Pakistan, Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa and Barham Salih of Iraq are also believed to have been potential targets.

"The unpreceden­ted reve

lation ... should send a chill down the spine of world leaders," Amnesty's secretary general, Agnes Callamard, said in a statement.

French newspaper Le Monde also reported Tuesday that the cellphones of Macron and 15 members of the French government may have been among

potential targets of surveillan­ce by the Pegasus software in 2019.

Macron's office responded to the report, saying that authoritie­s would investigat­e the allegation­s, but that if the targeting of the president is proven, it would be ''extremely grave.''

What is Pegasus spyware?

An investigat­ion published on Sunday by 17 media organizati­ons, led by Paris-based nonprofit journalism group Forbidden Stories, said spyware made and licensed by NSO had been used to hack thousands of smartphone­s.

It identified thousands of individual­s in 50 countries who were allegedly selected by NSO clients for potential surveillan­ce by the software.

The media consortium identified the targets from a list of more than 50,000 cellphone numbers obtained by Forbidden Stories and rights group Amnesty Internatio­nal.

NSO has said its product was only sold to vetted government intelligen­ce and law enforcemen­t agencies to fight terrorism and crime.

NSO Group denied that it ever maintained "a list of potential, past or existing targets," and called the report "full of wrong assumption­s and uncorrobor­ated theories."

lc/msh (AP, Reuters)

 ??  ?? NSO Group's Pegasus program is believed to have been used to spy on around 1,000 people in an array of countries
NSO Group's Pegasus program is believed to have been used to spy on around 1,000 people in an array of countries

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