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France-Morocco ties remain damaged by Israel spyware claims

January 6, 2022 at 1:20 pm

The website of Israel-made Pegasus spyware at an office on July 21, 2021 [MARIO GOLDMAN/AFP via Getty Images]

French-Moroccan relations have been strained for months in the wake of claims that Rabat used Israel’s Pegasus spyware to gather information from the phones of French officials including President Emmanuel Macron.

Last July, French prosecutors said they opened a probe into allegations that Moroccan intelligence services used the Israeli-made malware Pegasus to spy on several French journalists.

The probe came after 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 said to have been selected by numerous states for surveillance using the Israeli snooping technology.

Macron, former French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe and 14 French ministers were targeted for potential surveillance on behalf of Morocco in the Pegasus spyware case, the investigation revealed.

A retired French veteran diplomat said visits between French and Moroccan ministers have stopped because Paris has not yet decided whether Rabat spied on Macron or not.

In the wake of the French accusations, Morocco filed defamation claims against Amnesty International and French media non-profit Forbidden Stories, who claimed Rabat’s intelligence services had used the Pegasus mobile phone spyware against dozens of French journalists and officials, including Macron.

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