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Morocco, accused of having used Pegasus spy software, has decided to sue Amnesty and Forbidden Stories for defamation before the Paris Criminal Court, the kingdom’s lawyer announced in a statement on Thursday.
Morocco strikes back in the Pegasus affair. After opening an investigation into “unfounded accusations”, the kingdom decided, Thursday, July 22, to sue Amnesty and Forbidden Stories for defamation before the Paris Criminal Court, his lawyer announced in a statement sent to AFP.
“The kingdom of Morocco and its ambassador to France, Chakib Benmoussa, have mandated Me Olivier Baratelli to issue, as of today, two direct citations in defamation” against these two associations at the origin of the revelations since Sunday on the clients of this software.
A first procedural hearing is scheduled for October 8 before the press law chamber, but the trial is not expected to take place for about two years.
The future of this procedure may however come up against recent jurisprudence of the Court of Cassation: seized by Morocco after several rejections of complaints, the highest court of the judicial order ruled in 2019 that a State could not not sue for public defamation.
“The Moroccan state immediately intends to seize the French justice because it wants all the light to be shed on the false allegations of these two organizations which put forward elements without any concrete and demonstrated proof”, accuses Me Baratelli.
Morocco denounces “lies” and “fake news”
“The Moroccan state considers that it is facing a new list case and that the past has amply demonstrated that it was easy to draw false conclusions from such practices”, adds the lawyer, deploring a “trial of media intent, unfounded and visibly created from scratch to destabilize the deep diplomatic relationship between Morocco and France “.
The Shereefian kingdom “intends not to let go unpunished the multiple lies and fake news propagated in recent days”.
As of Monday, the Moroccan government defended itself by denying having acquired “computer software to infiltrate communication devices”.
Rabat then threatened, Wednesday, to “opt for a judicial process, in Morocco and internationally against any party taking up these spurious allegations”.
At the same time, the Moroccan public prosecutor’s office announced on Wednesday “the opening of a judicial investigation into these false allegations and accusations”.
Fifty thousand potentially watched numbers
Introduced into a smartphone, this software – designed by the Israeli company NSO – allows you to retrieve messages, photos, contacts, and to activate microphones remotely.
The organizations Forbidden Stories and Amnesty International obtained a list of 50,000 phone numbers, selected by NSO clients since 2016 for potential monitoring, and shared it with a consortium of 17 media outlets who revealed its existence on Sunday.
The list of potential targets includes the numbers of at least 180 journalists, 600 politicians, 85 human rights activists or 65 business leaders, according to the analysis of the consortium – which has located many in Morocco. , Saudi Arabia or Mexico.
Le Monde and Radio France, members of the consortium, revealed that a telephone line for the French president was among the “numbers selected by a Moroccan state security service (…) for potential piracy”.
Former Prime Minister Édouard Philippe, 14 members of the government including Jean-Yves Le Drian and Gérald Darmanin, as well as former ministers and political leaders are also on this list, according to these media.