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France Launches “Pegasus” espionage probe

Map of countries where journalists, politicians and activists have been spied on through the Pegasus program

France has launched an investigation into allegations that investigative journalists were spied on through an Israeli surveillance program.

The investigation in France covers 10 charges, including whether there was a violation of personal privacy, whether there was fraud to access personal electronic devices and a charge of criminal association, the Paris Prosecutor’s Office announced today.

A day earlier, the Mediapart website filed a legal complaint, accusing two of their reporters of being spied on by Moroccan secret services using the Israeli group’s Pegasus spy software.

Moroccan authorities reject such allegations as baseless and false.

Reports that the Israeli company’s products, which are used around the world, were used to track down political dissidents and journalists, have been condemned by politicians and media groups.

The Pegasus program has been used by many autocratic regimes, as well as democratic governments, to hack into the cell phones of journalists, officials and activists.

Clients of the Israeli software were the governments of Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Morocco, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Togo and the United Arab Emirates.

The Israeli firm denies involvement in the crime, saying its software is intended to fight criminals and terrorists and is only available to military authorities, law enforcement agencies and intelligence agencies in countries with good human rights record.

The list of spies includes 189 journalists, more than 600 politicians and government officials, at least 65 company directors, 85 human rights activists and several heads of state, according to the Washington Post.

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