French President Emmanuel Macron was one of three heads of state targeted for possible surveillance in the Pegasus case, The Washington Post reported Tuesday. According to the Post, two other incumbent presidents — Barham Salih of Iraq and Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa — were also targeted.
“None of them offered their iPhone or Android device to The Washington Post and 16 other news organizations that scrutinized the list of phone numbers. That means the forensic tests that may have revealed an infection with the NSO’s signature spyware, Pegasus, were not possible,” The Washington Post said in its report.
The Washington Post also said three current prime ministers – Pakistani Imran Khan, Egypt’s Mostafa Madbouly and Moroccan Saad-Eddine El Othmani – were named in the list.
“Seven former prime ministers, timestamped on the list there while still in office, including Lebanon’s Saad Hariri, Ugandan Ruhakana Rugunda and Belgian Charles Michel. And one king: Mohammed VI of Morocco,” the Post said.
“The Post and its partner news organizations in 10 countries confirmed ownership of these numbers and others mentioned in this article through public records, journalist contact books and inquiries to government officials or other close associates of the potential targets — although in some cases it was not. possible to determine whether the phone numbers were active or former numbers,” it added.
The Post said it confirmed five of the figures itself, while the rest were confirmed by its partners.
Earlier today, France said it was investigating the suspected widespread use of spyware by the Israel-based NSO Group to target journalists, human rights activists and political dissidents.
The Paris prosecutor’s office said in a statement on Tuesday that it has opened an investigation into a range of possible charges, including invasion of privacy, illegal use of data and the illegal sale of spyware.
An investigation published Sunday by 17 media organizations led by the Paris-based nonprofit journalism group Forbidden Stories said the spyware had been used in attempted successful hacks into the smartphones of journalists, government officials and human rights activists.