France launches probe into use of Pegasus to target journalists
French prosecutors announced on Tuesday that they had launched a probe into allegations over the use of the Pegasus spyware to target journalists in the country.
This is the first probe to be announced after media outlets began reporting on the use of the Pegasus spyware in multiple countries to snoop on politicians, dissidents, journalists and others.
News agency AFP reported the probe would focus on the use of the Pegasus spyware by Morocco's intelligence agencies to spy on French journalists.
Euro News reported the French Ministry of Justice said the Paris prosecutor's office would probe a string of allegations including "fraudulent access", "fraudulent entry of data", "invasion of privacy", "interception, diversion, use and disclosure of correspondence" and "sale without authorization of a technical device aimed at capturing data".
“The investigation has been entrusted to France's Central Office for Combating Technology-Related Crime of Information and Communication (OCLCTIC), an arm of the judicial police,” Euro News reported.
French media outlet Mediapart filed a complaint on Monday after the names of its journalists figured in the Pegasus revelations. French newspaper Le Canard Enchaine is also expected to approach authorities on the issue.
Mediapart revealed on Monday that the phone numbers of its co-founder and publishing editor Edwy Plenel and reporter Lénaïg Bredoux were targeted by Moroccan agencies. "Analysis has shown their phones were infected with the spyware by Moroccan agents in 2019 and 2020," Mediapart claimed.
According to reports, Moroccan agencies allegedly used Pegasus to target 1,000 French nationals including 30 journalists and media executives. The journalists targeted include staff of Le Monde, Le Figaro, AFP and France Télévisions.