Has President Macron been spied on by a foreign power? The question arises after the revelation on Tuesday that the head of state and members of the government are on the list of potential targets of the Pegasus software, used by some states to spy on personalities.
Le Monde and Radio France, which are part of the consortium of 17 media that had access to this list obtained by the network of journalists Forbidden Stories and the NGO Amnesty International, revealed on Tuesday that these numbers, including that of the former Prime Minister Edouard Philippe and 14 members of the government appear “in the list of numbers selected by a Moroccan state security service, user of the Pegasus spyware, for potential piracy”.
The Cherifian kingdom disputes its involvement in this espionage affair.
“We found these phone numbers, but we were obviously unable to carry out a technical investigation on Emmanuel Macron’s phone” to check if he was infected by this software, and therefore “that does not tell us if the president was really spied on “, explained the director of Forbidden Stories Laurent Richard, on the LCI news channel.
But according to him, whether or not the president was spied on, that “shows in any case that there was an interest in doing so”.
“If the facts are true, they are obviously very serious. All the light will be shed on these press revelations”, reacted the presidency, questioned by AFP to know if the head of state had been “potentially spied on” via Pegasus.
Forbidden Stories and Amnesty International obtained a list of 50,000 phone numbers selected since 2016 by clients of the Israeli firm NSO (which markets Pegasus) for potential surveillance and shared it with a consortium of 17 media outlets who revealed their existence Sunday.
– A king and three presidents –
According to Radio France and Le Monde, in addition to Edouard Philippe and his wife, leading ministers, at the time when their numbers were selected, appear on this list, including Jean-Yves Le Drian, Christophe Castaner, Gérald Darmanin, Bruno The Mayor or François de Rugy.
But also parliamentarians and political leaders such as François Bayrou of the MoDem, the deputy of La France Insoumise Adrien Quatennens, or Gilles Le Gendre (LREM).
Asked by the deputies about the presence of French journalists and politicians in the Pegasus list, Prime Minister Jean Castex had indicated that investigations were underway to verify “the materiality” of the alleged facts.
The French president is not the only head of state whose phone may have been spied on via Pegasus.
According to Radio France, the King of Morocco Mohammed VI and his entourage “are on the list of potential targets”, and according to the Washington Post, another member of the media consortium investigating the case, it contains numbers of two other presidents. , Iraqi Barham Saleh and South African Cyril Ramaphosa.
The Washington Post also puts forward the names of three sitting prime ministers, those of Pakistan, Imran Khan, Egypt, Mostafa Madbouli, and Morocco, Saad-Eddine El Othmani, and a total of seven prime ministers at the time. where they were selected on the list, including the Lebanese Saad Hariri, the Ugandan Ruhakana Rugunda, and the Belgian Charles Michel.
Asked about franceinfo, François de Rugy wanted “Morocco to provide explanations to France, to the French government and to a personality like me who was a member of the French government when there was an attempt to intrude and capture data from my cell phone “, while Gilles Le Gendre denounced on Twitter” the extreme gravity of this large-scale espionage “revealed by the daily.
Even before this new information was released, French justice opened an investigation Tuesday to examine the complaint of journalists who have also been targeted by Morocco using Pegasus, according to the consortium.