President Emmanuel Macron’s phone was on a list of targets that may have been under surveillance by Morocco, which used NSO’s Pegasus software, according to French newspaper Le Monde. The French leader has called for an investigation.
The office of Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said he would fly away to meet his French counterpart Florence Parly for talks on the governance crisis in Lebanon and Iran’s nuclear diplomacy.
“He (Gantz) will also brief the minister on the subject of the ONS,” the office said in a statement Tuesday.
The Gantz Department, which oversees commercial exports of cybersurveillance technology, is part of a high-level task force assessing allegations about Pegasus that were published last week by 17 media outlets, led by the journalism group at Purpose Paris-based nonprofit Forbidden Stories.
Media have said that Pegasus has been used in successful attempts to hack smartphones belonging to journalists, government officials and human rights activists.
NSO dismissed the report, saying it was “full of flawed assumptions and unsubstantiated theories”.
Pegasus is intended for use only by government intelligence and law enforcement agencies to combat terrorism and crime, the company said.
Israel’s top-rated Channel 12 newscast said Gantz would tell its French host that if the Israeli assessment reveals Moroccan abuse of Pegasus, they could be cut from the system.
Israeli officials have not commented on this report. The Gantz ministry and the ONS have refused to identify countries that own Pegasus.
A Gantz employee told Reuters it would take “weeks” for the government’s ONS assessment to be completed.
When asked if the Defense Ministry could increase oversight of NSO’s exports, the aide said, “The oversight is fine. There are totally different issues here. The assistant did not want to develop.
NSO has stated that it does not know the specific identity of the people that customers use Pegasus against, but that if it receives any complaints, it can acquire the target lists and unilaterally shut down the software for any customers that have any. abused.