(Paris) The Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz assured his French counterpart Florence Parly on Wednesday that his country was taking the espionage allegations regarding the Israeli software Pegasus, which is also suspected of having been used against President Emmanuel Macron, “seriously”.
Posted on Jul 28, 2021 at 5:02 pm
Benny Gantz “raised the issue of NSO (Israeli cybersecurity company that Pegasus developed) and said Israel was taking the allegations seriously,” the Israel Defense Ministry said in a statement.
“He pointed out that the State of Israel only grants export licenses for cyber products to states and only for the purpose of combating terrorism and crime,” the ministry added.
The French Federal Minister of Defense, who received Benny Gantz in Paris late that afternoon, made no statement at the end of the meeting.
However, she indicated Tuesday that she would use this long-planned bilateral meeting to find out “what knowledge the Israeli government has about the activities of NSO customers” and what mechanisms are in place to “redirect these highly intrusive tools.” “.
Pegasus, which enables the infiltration of computer systems, is at the center of a worldwide espionage scandal that was uncovered by 17 media outlets in mid-July.
This would have made it possible to spy on the numbers of at least 180 journalists, 85 human rights activists or even 14 heads of state, including French President Emmanuel Macron, which the NSO refutes.
According to the French media Le Monde and Radio France, figures from Emmanuel Macron as well as those of the former Prime Minister Édouard Philippe and 14 members of the government, including the diplomatic chief Jean-Yves Le Drian, appeared “in the list of figures” from a security service of the Moroccan state, Pegasus user selected for potential piracy.
“If these facts are proven (…) we will all draw the conclusions, but first their accuracy has to be proven,” said the spokesman for the French government, Gabriel Attal, in the “question of the Council of Ministers”. , stressed that “reviews” are ongoing.
Regularly accused of playing along with authoritarian regimes, NSO assures that its Pegasus software is only used to obtain information about criminal or terrorist networks.
The Israeli parliament set up a commission to investigate allegations of “abuse” of Pegasus by some states to spy on public figures.
Benny Gantz told Ms. Parly that “officials visited the NSO offices on Wednesday,” the Israel Defense Ministry said, without giving any further details.
The Israeli minister and his counterpart also took stock of Iranian nuclear power and the regional “threat” Iran poses in the eyes of Israel. He also spoke to the head of the French Foreign Intelligence Service (DGSE), Bernard Émié.