Journalists checked? France announces investigation | free press


After the revelations in the media about spying on journalists with the Israeli Pegasus software, Paris wants to respond.

Paris (AP) – French government spokesman Gabriel Attal reacted stunned and outraged by media revelations that journalists were being tracked with the Pegasus software of the Israeli company NSO.

“This is, of course, an extremely shocking fact,” Attal told Franceinfo broadcaster on Monday. He announced – not detailed – investigations. “We are very attached to freedom of the press,” he added.

An international journalist consortium had previously published new allegations against NSO. IT experts reportedly found traces of attacks with the company’s Pegasus software on 37 smartphones belonging to journalists, human rights activists, their families and businessmen. The figures are part of a dataset of more than 50,000 telephone numbers that the journalists evaluated together with the organizations Forbidden Stories and Amnesty International. The numbers are reported to have been selected by NSO customers as potential spy targets. The NSO rejected the allegations on Sunday.

The “Süddeutsche Zeitung”, NDR, WDR and “Zeit” are also involved in the consortium. According to their presentation, the “Pegasus Project” investigation suggests that hundreds of journalists, human rights activists, opposition activists and politicians were selected to follow them with the software. The list includes the numbers of more than 180 journalists from different countries. Numbers of German journalists are not included.

As the daily newspaper «Le Monde» reported on its website, the Pegasus list includes about 30 journalists and heads of media companies in France. The online platform “Mediapart” reported that the mobile phones of two journalists from the company were targeted by the Pegasus software between 2019 and 2020 – according to the allegations Moroccan secret services were behind them. “We are filing a complaint with the Public Prosecutor’s Office of the Republic in Paris,” wrote “Mediapart”. Government spokesman Attal did not comment in the interview on possible backgrounds to the affair, nor on the allegations against Morocco in this regard.