PARIS, 28 July 2021 – French authorities are investigating allegations that Moroccan authorities spied on journalists working for Mediapart, a Paris-based news website.
The probe has been opened after French judiciary authorities received complaints from Mediapart journalist Edwy Plenel and others.
Mediapart called on French authorities to take “strict measures that go beyond condemning the violation of freedoms carried out by a foreign power”.
The cell phones of Edwy Plenel, who is a co-founder of Mediapart “was among 10,000 others that were targeted by the Moroccan secret services using a spyware provided by Israeli firm NSO,” Mediapart said in a statement.
On Twitter, Mediapart explained that two of their reporters had their phones infected with the spyware Pegasus back in 2019 and 2020, blaming Moroccan secret services for the spying.
Paris-based Mediapart announced its intention to file a complaint with the courts in Paris after news of governments using the spyware broke.
A former journalist of the French satirical newspaper, Le Canard Enchaîné, Dominique Simon, has also said she will file a complaint after it was revealed that her cell phone had been monitored by the spyware.
“It is outrageous to spy on journalists. They had access to all my contacts and all our private and professional lives,” Dominque Simon told reporters.
Rights activists have accused Moroccan authorities and officials in over three dozen countries of using an Israeli-made spyware called Pegasus, to tap into phones and access data on phones.
Moroccan officials have denied the charges.
A human rights activist, Omar Radi, who was charged and convicted of sexual assault and spying while he was investigating corruption in Morocco is among those who say the spyware has been used to both spy on them as well as set them up.
The spyware has been used not only to spy on journalists but also on a number of heads of state, according to a release Tuesday by American intelligence services.
Those spied on included the French and South African presidents, respectively Emmanuel Macron and Cyril Ramaphosa.
The Prime Ministers of Egypt and Morocco, respectively Mostafa Madbouly and Saad-Eddine El Othmani were also spied on, as was the King of Morocco, His Royal Highness Mohammed VI.
The Washington Post has listed no fewer than ten prime ministers, three presidents and a king who were spied on using the spyware.