On July 1st, the Paris Public Prosecutor’s Office entrusted an investigating judge with the investigation in France into the use of the Pegasus spyware. Last year, this project was the subject of an international scandal just as important as the cyber-espionage affair linked to the revelations of Edward Snowden in 2013 around the National Security Agency (NSA).
Project Pegasus: A global cyber-espionage affair
In July 2021, after several months of investigation, a consortium of 17 media supported by Amnesty International revealed several facts about the Pegasus project. This spy software developed by NSO Group was intended to help intelligence services to fight against terrorism and crime, due to its ability to be introduced very easily into any Apple or Android smartphone without it notice it.
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While Pegasus had been suspected for a few years of being misused, the media consortium had access to a file containing 50,000 telephone numbers identified as targets of NSO Group customers. Among the victims of Pegasus are the numbers of several hundred politicians, business leaders, journalists and human rights activists. This information has caused outrage since the people targeted by the spyware seem far from being criminals or terrorists.
An investigating judge associated with the French part of the investigations around Pegasus
Immediately after being informed, the Paris prosecutor’s office opened an investigation into spying on French journalists and one of Emmanuel Macron’s cell phones on behalf of the Moroccan state. A fact that had been presented by the consortium of 17 international media that revealed the case. At present, Morocco strongly disputes this accusation.
In addition, the survey also targets:
- the infractions ” associations of criminals, the interception of correspondence sent by electronic means, the installation of devices likely to allow such interception, possession and dissemination of words or images infringing privacy, offer, transfer or disposal and possession, offer or sale of equipment designed to enable an attack on an automated data processing system “.
- Offenses relating to the administration: access and maintenance in an automated data processing system implemented by the State in an organized band, introduction, extraction, detention, reproduction and transmission of data from an automated data processing system implemented by the State in an organized gang “.
In this sense, a judicial investigation has therefore been opened against X by the cyber section of the Paris prosecutor’s office. France is not the only country to have launched an investigation: in Spain, justice indicated that the judge investigating the espionage of several members of the Spanish government, including Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, wanted to question the boss in Israel. of NSO Group. A special investigation committee has even been created by the European Parliament for the alleged use of Pegasus within the EU.