Wednesday Jul 21, 2021
Phone numbers used by French President Emmanuel Macron and top members of his government are among the potential targets for the Pegasus spyware supplied to several governments worldwide, the NGO that leaked the list of numbers said Tuesday.
"We found these numbers but we obviously couldn't do a technical analysis of Emmanuel Macron's phone" to determine if it had been infected with the malware, the head of Forbidden Stories, Laurent Richard told LCI television.
"But it shows, in any case, there was an interest in doing it," he said.
"If this fact is established, it's obviously very serious," a spokesman for Macron's office said.
Forbidden Stories, a Paris-based media nonprofit, and Amnesty International initially had access to the leaked numbers, which they then shared with media organisations including The Washington Post, The Guardian and Le Monde.
Macron's phone number was among some 50,000 believed to have been identified as people of interest since 2016 by clients of the Israeli firm NSO, developer of the Pegasus cyber-surveillance technology, the reports said.
Activists, journalists and politicians around the world were targeted, prompting fears of widespread privacy and rights abuses.
The news outlets with access to the leak said more details about those who were compromised would be released in the coming days.
Pakistani, Chinese and diplomats from other countries in the Indian capital appeared on the list of potential targets for phone hacking via the Israeli-made Pegasus spyware, reported The Hindu.
The publication citing the French paper Le Monde said that several New Delhi-based diplomats were also on the list of potential targets for phone hacking from 2017-2021, along with a phone associated with Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan.
“The numbers of [Pakistan Prime Minister] Imran Khan and several of his ambassadors in India appear on the list as potential targets. Dozens of other Delhi-based diplomats and ambassadors are also included, from Iran, Afghanistan, China, Nepal and Saudi Arabia,” the report published on Monday in Le Monde said.
The Hindu reported that the French publication had said that the number of Pakistan’s envoy to India was on the list too.
The use of the software, called Pegasus and developed by NSO Group, was reported on by The Washington Post, the Guardian, Le Monde and other news outlets Sunday who collaborated on an investigation into a data leak.
The leak was of a list of up to 50,000 phone numbers believed to have been identified as people of interest by clients of the NSO since 2016, the reports said.
Not all of those numbers were subsequently hacked, and the news outlets with access to the leak said more details about those who were compromised would be released in the coming days.