Two French media, the news site Mediapart and the satirical weekly Le Canard Enchaîné, announced Monday that they would file complaints in Paris, after revelations about Morocco spying on the phones of some of their journalists, via Israeli software Pegasus.
Mediapart confirmed on Monday that the cell phone numbers of the site’s co-founder, Edwy Plenel and journalist Lénaïg Bredoux “are among the 10,000 that Morocco’s secret services have targeted using spyware provided by the Israeli company NSO.”
Lénaïg Bredoux is editorial manager for gender issues at Mediapart, in charge of investigating gender-based and sexual violence, and in 2012 co-signed a book “Tunis Connection, investigation of Franco-Tunisian networks under Ben Ali”.
“For several months, the repressive apparatus of the Shereefian kingdom thus violated the private privacy of two journalists, undermined the profession of information and the freedom of the press, stolen and exploited personal and professional data”, denounced the newspaper online, after the publication of the revelations about Pegasus by a media consortium (including Le Monde, the Guardian and the Washington Post).
The investigative media argues that the aim was to try to “silence independent journalists in Morocco, by finding out how we were investigating (…)”.
This is why he indicates that he has decided to file a complaint on Monday on behalf of his two journalists so that justice can “to conduct an independent investigation into this large-scale espionage organized in France by Morocco”.
“Assess the damage”
Contacted by AFP, the Canard Enchaîné, which is part, according to Le Monde, of the French media whose journalists have been targeted, also assured that he would take justice. “We will file a complaint against X with the constitution of civil party”, said Michel Gaillard, who chairs the newspaper’s publishing company, adding that the file for this complaint was being drawn up.
The former journalist of the weekly Dominique Simonnot, who is one of the personalities targeted by this espionage, “will file a complaint”, she also told AFP.
“I have been absolutely pissed off since I found out. Even though I have always been careful on the phone, I find it difficult to assess the damage it caused.”, she said, adding that “the intrusion started in 2019 and only lasted a few months”.
The public group France Médias Monde, which brings together RFI, France 24 and the Arabic-speaking radio MCD, whose employees have also been targeted, is indignant “such liberticidal acts practiced by certain States which do not respect fundamental human rights“, and called “the competent authorities, nationally and internationally, to take up this matter”.
Contacted by AFP, the management of France Televisions said “stunned and outraged by the system uncovered by the consortium“. “If it turns out that journalists (from France Télévisions) are presumed victims, we will accompany them in their legal proceedings, but at this stage we have no official confirmation “, told AFP Laurent Guimier, director of information for the group.
Organizations have also expressed their indignation, such as the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) which strongly condemned “any attempt to interfere with the private communications of journalists”, or the Reporters Without Borders association which plans to file complaints in several countries and ensures that it will do everything “for NSO to be condemned for the crimes of which it is guilty and the tragedies it makes possible “.