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France investigates use of Israeli Pegasus spyware against dissidents

On Monday, June 19, two journalists and the French online investigative publication Mediapart filed complaints in response to recent allegations that Pegasus malware developed by the Israeli company NSO Group had entered the hands of dictatorial regimes.

The prosecutor would investigate various allegations. Those including fraudulent access, fraudulent data entry, invasion of privacy, interception, diversion use, disclosure of correspondence, and unauthorized sale of a technical device aimed at data collection.

The NSO Group, a major Israeli cyber-surveillance firm, came under increased attention Sunday when an international coalition of news organizations claimed that governments employed its software to target journalists, dissidents, and opposition politicians.

Additionally, the Israeli government came under international pressure for allowing the corporation to conduct business with authoritarian regimes that use the spyware for purposes other than the company’s declared objective of tracking terrorists and criminals.

The military-grade virus can infect phones and other devices, granting the operator access to messages, photos, and emails, as well as controlling the device’s microphone and camera.

While NSO Group maintains democratic states, material released to the Paris-based NGO Forbidden Stories and Amnesty International revealed it had been offered to totalitarian countries, with up to 50,000 mobile phone numbers on the target list. only meant for use Pegasus

The French Ministry of Justice announced that the inquiry has been committed to France’s Central Office for Combating Information and Communication Technology-Related Crime (OCLCTIC), a judicial police branch.

The journalist consortium connected NSO to a leaked list of over 50,000 mobile phone numbers from over 50 countries that appeared to be potential monitoring targets for the company’s clients.

The list includes the editor of The Financial Times, Roula Khalaf, people close to Mr. Khashoggi; Cecilio Pineda Birto, a Mexican reporter who was assassinated on the street.

According to a media investigation, NSO clients allegedly singled Journalists for The Associated Press, Reuters, CNN, The Wall Street Journal, Le Monde, and The Financial Times for possible surveillance. As well as media owners, government officials, opposition lawmakers, political dissidents, academics, and human rights activists.
At least five Hungarian journalists are suspected of being spied on as well.

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