France probes use of NSO spyware with Macron a possible target
The cellphones of French President Emmanuel Macron and 15 members of the French government may have been among potential targets in 2019 of surveillance by spyware made by the Israel-based NSO Group, according to a newspaper report Tuesday.
The report by Le Monde follows an announcement by the Paris prosecutor’s office that it is investigating the suspected widespread use of NSO's Pegasus spyware to target journalists, human rights activists and politicians in multiple countries.
Le Monde is part of the global media consortium Forbidden Stories that identified the targets from a leaked list of more than 50,000 cellphone numbers. Research was done in cooperation with human rights group Amnesty International and shared with 16 news organizations which began publishing their findings on Sunday.
#PegasusProject: Macron among world leaders selected as potential targets of NSO spyware— Amnesty Tech (@AmnestyTech) July 20, 2021
"It's clear that even those at the highest levels of power cannot escape the sinister spread of NSO’s spyware" - @AgnesCallamardhttps://t.co/iWVPvU1Lq2
Another U.S. company identified by Amnesty as hosting NSO servers was DigitalOcean. When contacted by The Associated Press, DigitalOcean neither confirmed nor denied whether it had identified or cut off such servers.
Moroccan security service
"All of the infrastructure outlined in the Amnesty report is no longer on DigitalOcean," it said Tuesday without elaborating in an emailed statement.
Le Monde said the phone numbers for Macron and the then-government members were among thousands allegedly selected by NSO clients for potential surveillance. In this case, the client was an unidentified Moroccan security service, according to Le Monde.
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