French Finance Minister Le Maire's Phone Investigated in Pegasus Spyware Case
07:05 GMT 30.07.2021 (Updated: 07:33 GMT 30.07.2021)
© AP Photo / Kay NietfeldBruno Le Maire, France's minister for economic and financial affairs, attends the Informal Meeting of Economics and Finance Ministers in Berlin, Germany, Friday, Sept. 11, 2020
© AP Photo / Kay Nietfeld
French President Emmanuel Macron had to change his phone as well as his number following reports that his previous device may have been infected with the Pegasus spyware.
The phone of Bruno Le Maire, French finance minister, is being investigated to establish whether it has been targeted by the Israeli-made spyware, Pegasus.
"We are in an investigation phase, and that includes my own device", Le Maire told France Inter radio on Friday, without providing any additional information on the probe.
A few days ago, French President Emmanuel Macron, whose phone was ostensibly bugged, had to get both a new device and phone number. Reports suggested that Morocco may have targeted his old cell phone using Pegasus, however, Rabat has firmly denied any involvement.
"The Kingdom of Morocco strongly condemns the persistent false, massive, and malicious media campaign", the statement said, adding that the government said it "rejects these false and unfounded allegations, and challenges their peddlers … to provide any tangible and material evidence in support of their surreal stories".
The allegation was made by the French newspaper Le Monde, a part of a global media consortium investigating the suspected widespread use of Pegasus spyware to target journalists, human rights activists, and politicians worldwide.
Le Monde reported that the cellphones of President Emmanuel Macron and 15 then-members of the French government may have been among the potential targets of surveillance by Pegasus on behalf of a Moroccan security agency in 2019. Shortly thereafter, Macron ordered a series of probes into the case.
The spyware's developer, the Israeli firm NSO Group, claims the tool was created and used solely for the purpose of spying on dangerous criminals and terrorists.
Over a dozen world leaders are believed to be among the 50,000 people whose phones have supposedly been compromised by the Israeli-made military-grade surveillance software.