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Gantz denies Israel malware used to spy on France president

July 29, 2021 at 9:57 am

Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz in Jerusalem on June 7, 2021 [MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP via Getty Images]

Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz yesterday denied claims that malware manufactured by Israel’s NSO Group had been used to spy on the phone of French President Emmanuel Macron, Channel 13 reported.

During a meeting with his French counterpart Florence Parly, Gantz said that NSO’s technology had not been used to hack into the phones of Macron or other French officials.

“Israel is taking the allegations seriously,” Gantz told Parly.

On 18 July, an investigation by the Pegasus Project, a ground-breaking collaboration by more than 80 journalists from 17 media organisations in ten countries, found that as many as 50,000 phone numbers were targeted for surveillance by NSO Group’s client governments using the Israeli snooping technology, including the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

The investigation revealed that Morocco’s security services used the spyware to hack Macron’s phone as well as those of French journalists.

“[Gantz] noted that the State of Israel approves the export of cyber products exclusively to governmental entities, for lawful use and only for the purpose of preventing and investigating crime and counter terrorism,” the defence ministry said in a statement.

“He also informed Minister Parly that officials visited NSO’s office today and that Israel is investigating the allegations thoroughly,” it added.

READ: Israel investigates NSO over spyware scandal