Two prominent Moroccan human rights activists have become targets of hackers. They tried to install advanced Israeli espionage software on their smartphones, Amnesty International reports on Thursday based on research.

This is software from the Israeli company NSO. The espionage software is formally only intended for the fight against terrorism and organized crime. However, the software was also used earlier to spy on activists, journalists and lawyers.

According to Amnesty researcher Claudio Guarnieri, the two activists have fallen victim to the Pegasus spyware. He suspects that the Moroccan government is behind the hacking attempt. The two activists suspect this too, although there is no technical evidence for this.

Since 2017, the Pegasus spyware would be used to spy on the activists. The men would have received text messages with a malicious link. If they had clicked on the link, the espionage software would be installed on their device.

According to Amnesty, at least one attempt to install the malware has been successful. In addition, Pegasus ended up on the iPhone of the activist Maati Monjib. He is involved with a Moroccan organization that stands up for freedom of the press.

Morocco has not yet responded to the Amnesty report. NSO says to investigate the accusation.