Senior adviser to French president meets with Israeli counterpart to discuss ONS spyware allegedly targeting French government ministers
The Guardian newspaper reported last week that a senior adviser to the French president, Emmanuel Macron, met his Israeli counterpart and held “secret” talks.
They reportedly discussed the alleged targeting of French ministers by a client of Israeli surveillance specialist NSO Group.
Last month, investigative site Mediapart claimed traces of spyware Pegasus had been found on the cell phones of at least five current French ministers. He cited several anonymous sources and a confidential intelligence file as the source.
The Pegasus spyware fury has been going on for some time now.
In October 2019, NSO was sued by Facebook for an allegation that it was behind the cyberattack that infected WhatsApp users with advanced surveillance hacks in May 2019.
NSO has always said it only supplies law enforcement and governments, but privacy activists in December of last year said they found several instances in which its spyware had been deployed on the devices of dissidents or journalists.
And things really escalated in July of this year, when Project Pegasus alleged that NSO’s Pegasus spyware had been used “to facilitate human rights violations around the world on a massive scale.”
The Pegasus Project is a global media consortium of more than 80 journalists from around the world, coordinated by Forbidden Stories, a Paris-based non-profit media, with technical support from Amnesty International.
He allegedly uncovered evidence revealing that the phone numbers of 14 heads of state, including French President Emmanuel Macron, Pakistani Imran Khan and South African Cyril Ramaphosa, as well as 600 government officials and politicians from 34 countries, had emerged. in a database disclosed to the core of the survey project.
President Macron has changed both his cell phone number and his phone number in light of the Pegasus dispute.
President Macron also telephoned Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to make sure the Israeli government was “properly investigating” allegations that he may have been the target of spyware by Moroccan security services.
This led Israeli Defense Ministry officials to “visit” NSO offices near Tel Aviv.
And now the Guardian newspaper has reported that a senior government official under Naftali Bennett, the Israeli Prime Minister, has been holding “secret” meetings at the Elysee Palace.
These meetings were first reported by the Axios news site and then confirmed by the Guardian’s partners in the Pegasus Project, a media consortium that investigated NSO.
The meeting between Emmanuel Bonne, Macron’s senior diplomatic adviser, and Eyal Hulata, Israel’s national security adviser, is said to have aimed to end the “crisis” that has engulfed relations between the two countries since the summer.
“It is not for NSO to comment on the existence or the content of diplomatic meetings,” said an NSO spokesperson quoted by the Guardian newspaper, in response to the Israeli-French talks.
“However, with respect to the allegations of Project Pegasus, we stand by our previous statements: the so-called list is not a list of Pegasus targets, therefore the French government officials mentioned are not and never have been Pegasus targets, ”the spokesperson said. .
Axios reported that the “crisis” between the two countries has resulted in a “partial freeze” of diplomatic, security and intelligence cooperation between Israel and France and the suspension of high-level bilateral visits.
The Israeli group Hulata reportedly informed the French group Bonne of the progress of an Israeli investigation into Pegasus and offered a commitment to prohibit its customers from accessing French mobile numbers.
It should be noted that numbers based in the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand would also be banned from NSO customers.