French President Emmanuel Macron, King of Morocco Mohammed 6th and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa are among the possible targets for using the Pegasus software, which is capable of hacking mobile phones to access sensitive data such as text messages. , photos and recordings, depending on the news. published by the Guardian and Le Monde newspapers this Tuesday (20).
Macron was reportedly the target of action at the request of the Moroccan government, according to Le Monde. One of the phone numbers that the French leader has been using since 2017 is on the list of possible spy targets. In addition to Macron, 15 other French ministers were mentioned in this list.
Le Monde did not have access to Macron’s cell phone to confirm that there had been an invasion, but it did check other phones, such as that of former Environment Minister François de Rugy, in which he found spy files.
The allegation that governments used Pegasus to investigate opponents, journalists and other authorities came to light on Sunday (18). Several media vehicles had access to a list of more than 50,000 telephone numbers which would have served as targets for the program, developed by the company NSO Group, based in Israel. The company has been under investigation by the FBI, the US Federal Police, at least since 2017, for suspected data theft.
Pegasus is malware, a program created to infect computers or other devices, capable of accessing smartphones without the device user having to click malicious links or behave carelessly on the Internet. .
Thus, the Pegasus operator can extract sensitive content, such as messages – even encrypted -, photos and e-mails, in addition to remotely and secretly triggering cameras and microphones.
King Mohammed VI, his wife Salma Bennani and Moulay Hicham, one of the king’s cousins nicknamed the “Red Prince” for his critical stance towards the monarchy and democracy, also featured on the list of victims.
The list of spies also includes Imran Khan, Prime Minister of Pakistan, Charles Michel, President of the Council of Europe and former Prime Minister of Belgium, and Tedros Ghebreyesus, current Director General of WHO and former Chancellor of Ethiopia. See the list of names at the end of the article.
Former Mexican President Felipe Calderón was reportedly under surveillance in 2016 and 2017, when his wife, Margarita Zavala, ran for president. Relatives of the current president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, were also reportedly spied on. Mexican state agencies signed contracts with the ONS from 2011, and there are suspicions that local authorities may have used the tools for personal interests.
The ONS said Macron, King Mohammed 6 and Ghebreyesus were not targeted by its programs, and the presence of a number on the published list does not indicate that its owner was spied on.
Shalev Hulio, founder of the NSO, said in an interview on Tuesday (20) that the names of the targets cited in the press have no connection with the company and that his services are aimed at preventing terrorist attacks and saving lives. Hulio said the ONS, in 11 years of operation, has worked with 45 countries and rejected requests from 90 others, without specifying which ones. And that the company intends to file a complaint for defamation.
According to the press consortium, the data collected does not allow to say exactly who are the customers of the ONS, but the survey shows that the participation of the governments of at least ten countries: Saudi Arabia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Kazakhstan, United Arab Emirates, Hungary, India, Morocco, Mexico and Rwanda.
The program was at the center of a crisis between the Brazilian army and Carlos Bolsonaro (Republicanos-RJ). According to a report published by UOL, in May, the son of President Jair Bolsonaro (no party) tried to articulate the takeover of Pegasus without organs with the prerogative to use tools of this type, like the GSI (Institutional Security Office) and the Abin (Brazilian Intelligence Agency), were involved in the negotiation – which goes beyond the limits of Carlos, who is a city councilor in Rio de Janeiro.
Politicians and activists
Emmanuel Macron, President of France Mohammed 6th, King of Morocco Cyril Ramaphosa, President of South Africa Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO Imran Khan, Prime Minister of Pakistan Charles Michel, President of the European Council Saad Hariri, Former Prime Minister of Lebanon Felipe Calderón, former President of Mexico Rahul Gandhi, main opponent of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi Carine Kanimba, daughter of activist Paul Rusesabagina, who inspired the film “Hotel Rwanda”
Jamal Khashoggi, assassinated Saudi columnist Cecilio Pinero Birto, Mexican journalist also assassinated Roula Khalaf, editor-in-chief of the Financial Times Khadija Ismayilova, Azerbaijani investigative journalist