JERUSALEM, July 27 (Reuters) – Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz will visit France this week to discuss spyware sold by Israeli cyber firm NSO that was allegedly used to target French President Emmanuel Macron.
Macron’s phone was on a list of targets that could be monitored by Morocco, which used NSO Group’s Pegasus software, according to French newspaper Le Monde. The French leader has called for an investigation.
Gantz will meet French Defense Minister Florence Parly on Wednesday, according to an official Israeli statement.
“Gantz will discuss the crisis in Lebanon and the development of the agreement with Iran. He will also brief the Minister on the subject of the ONS, ”he said.
Israel’s Defense Ministry oversees commercial exports of spyware and cybersurveillance technologies like Pegasus.
A global investigation released last week by 17 media organizations, led by Paris-based nonprofit journalism group Forbidden Stories, said Pegasus had been used in successful hacking attempts on smartphones belonging to journalists, officials said. government officials and human rights activists.
Israel has since set up a high-level inter-ministerial team to assess any possible misuse of the spyware.
NSO dismissed the reports, saying they were “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.
Gantz’s trip was planned before the NSO affair and was to focus on the growing economic crisis in Lebanon, which shares a border with Israel, and on the efforts of world powers to resume a nuclear deal with Iran, the officials said. Israeli media.
Israel fears that a resumption of the agreement could possibly allow its nemesis Tehran to acquire atomic weapons. Iran denies looking for the bomb. Attempts to revive the 2015 deal, after then-President Donald Trump abandoned it in 2018, have been slow to progress.
France’s foreign ministry said on Monday that Iran was jeopardizing the possibility of reaching a deal with world powers on reviving the deal if it did not return to the negotiating table soon.
Reporting by Maayan Lubell; Editing by Ari Rabinovitch and Nick Macfie
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