French president, Emmanuel Macron’s phone number has been found among potential targets of a huge international spying operation.
According to Mail Online, Macron is among 50,000 politicians, journalists, and human rights activists around the world said to have been identified as ‘people of interest’ by clients of Israeli firm NSO, developer of a surveillance system called Pegasus.
President Imran Khan of Pakistan and President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa as well as World Health Organisation chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. are also among potential targets found on a list of numbers leaked to Amnesty and the Paris-based journalism nonprofit Forbidden Stories.
The Paris prosecutor’s office is investigating suspected widespread use of Pegasus spyware and an official in the president’s office said: ‘If this is proven, it is clearly very serious.’
Investigator Laurent Richard said on French TV: ‘We found these numbers but we obviously couldn’t do a technical analysis of Emmanuel Macron’s phone to determine if it had been infected with a spying device.’
Last night the NSO Group denied that it had ever maintained ‘a list of potential, past or existing targets’.
‘The unprecedented revelation… should send a chill down the spine of world leaders,’ Amnesty’s secretary general, Agnes Callamard, said in a statement.
Three current prime ministers and the king of Morocco, Mohammed VI, are also on the list, The Washington Post reported.
The Post said none of the heads of state would offer their smartphones for forensic testing that might have detected whether they were infected by NSO’s military-grade Pegasus spyware. Thirty-seven phones identified in the investigation were either breached or shows signs of attempted infection, it has reported.
The Post and 16 other members of a global media consortium were granted access to the leaked list. Another member, the French daily Le Monde, determined that 15 members of the French government may have been among potential targets with Macron in 2019.
The Paris prosecutor’s office is investigating the suspected widespread use of NSO’s military-grade Pegasus spyware to target journalists, human rights activists, and politicians in multiple countries.
Also Sunday, Amnesty released a forensic analysis of the alleged targeting that showed Amazon Web Services was hosting NSO infrastructure.
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, the report said.
‘All of the infrastructure outlined in the Amnesty report is no longer on DigitalOcean,’ it said Tuesday, without elaborating, in an emailed statement.