Human rights activists, journalists and opponents around the world have been spied on using software developed by an Israeli company, according to an investigation published Sunday (July 18) in several media. 

The Forbidden Stories investigative consortium and Amnesty International gained access to a list, compiled in 2016, of 50,000 phone numbers that customers of NSO Group, creator of the Pegasus spyware, had selected for potential surveillance. .

It includes the numbers of at least 180 journalists, 600 politicians, 85 human rights activists, and 65 business leaders, according to an analysis carried out by 17 editorial staff.

- ๐—•๐—ฅ๐—˜๐—”๐—ž๐—œ๐—ก๐—š -


Global democracy under cyber attack.


Follow along throughout the week. # PegasusProject pic.twitter.com/R2uuYhMqzV

- Forbidden Stories (@FbdnStories) July 18, 2021

Technical expertise

NSO Group spyware Pegasus, if inserted into a smartphone, can retrieve messages, photos, contacts, and even listen to calls from its owner.

Journalists from the investigative consortium met some of those targeted and recovered 67 phones, which were subject to technical expertise in an Amnesty International laboratory.

This examination confirmed an infection or attempted infection with NSO Group spyware for 37 devices, according to reports released on Sunday.

For the other 30, the results are not convincing, often because the owners of the numbers have changed phones.

"There is a strong temporal correlation between when the numbers appeared on the list and when they were placed under surveillance," said the Washington Post.

Relatives of Jamal Khashoggi 

Two of the phones belong to women close to Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, assassinated in 2018, in his country's consulate in Istanbul by a commando of agents from Saudi Arabia.

This list includes the number of a Mexican journalist Cecilio Pineda Birto, shot dead in the state of Guerrero in Mexico, a few weeks after his appearance on this document.

Foreign correspondents from several major media, including the Wall Street Journal, CNN, France 24, Mediapart, El Paรญs, or AFP are also part of it.

The investigative consortium #ForbiddenStories reveals that @Mediapart was spied on in 2019-2020 by Morocco thanks to the #Pegasus software, via my phone and that of @LenaBred.

See you tomorrow morning for more info and our reactions on https://t.co/m2kitUs94s https://t.co/JObwCAN7SI

- Edwy Plenel (@edwyplenel) July 18, 2021

Other names of personalities on the list will be disclosed in the coming days by the media consortium that conducted the investigation, including Le Monde, The Guardian, and The Washington Post.

>> Read: Why Pegasus Is The Most Sophisticated Mobile Spyware Ever Detected

The company NSO Group, founded in 2011 and which has regularly been accused of playing into the game of authoritarian regimes, has always ensured that its software was only used to obtain information against criminal or terrorist networks.

But this investigation, which undermines the Israeli group, comes on top of a study, conducted in 2020, by the Citizen Lab of the University of Toronto, which had confirmed the presence of the Pegasus software in the phones of dozens of employees. of the Al-Jazeera channel in Qatar.

With AFP

The summary of the week

France 24 invites you to come back to the news that marked the week

I subscribe

Take international news everywhere with you!

Download the France 24 application

google-play-badge_FR