The Pegasus spyware has apparently been used to target and snoop on one too many journalists and activists, as per reports by a consortium back by Amnesty International. But turns out, the reach of the tool is far greater than first expected, as it has been implied that French President Emmanuel Macron was also among the targets of Pegasus.
French and Belgian Dignitaries Targeted
And that’s not all, either, since as many as 14 French ministers have also been found on the list. This includes Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire, and Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian. Former Belgian Prime Minister, and current president of the European Council, Charles Michel, was another target.
However, it cannot be said for sure whether the agency which attempted to hack into Macron’s phone and extract information, was actually successful in doing the same. Nevertheless, this incident just goes on to show that even the most best-protected individuals might not be protected enough, thanks to the existence of cross-border use of spyware.
The French President’s office has taken to releasing an official statement on the issue, saying that “all light will be shed on these media revelations,” should they turn out to be true. They also added that some French victims have already moved to file complaints, giving headway to legal investigations.
The Actual Deal with the Pegasus Spyware
The spyware in question has been developed by Israeli surveillance company NSO Group, which has staunchly been claiming that its tool has no connection whatsoever to any such findings. It has gone on to say that Pegasus is intended to only spy on terrorists and criminals.
Following reports that Macron was among the victims of the spyware, the company even wrote to Pegasus Project, the consortium behind the revelations, saying that neither was the French leader a “target,” nor have any of its other customers (including Michel) ever been a “target.”
Still, this doesn’t do much to take the attention away from the fact that most of the affected individuals have been found to be citizens of countries that have previously been known to have had links with NSO Group and Pegasus.
Meanwhile, the government Morocco was identified as one of five possible clients of the spyware back in 2018 by the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab, and a probe has finally been launched into Moroccan intelligence by French prosecutors, as of Tuesday.