South Africa’s Ramaphosa among 3 presidents targeted in Pegasus spyware case, including France’s Emmanuel Macron and Pakistan’s Imran Khan.
The phone of President Cyril Ramaphosa was on a list of potential targets for potential surveillance in the now infamous Pegasus spyware saga exposed earlier this week by a global consortium of journalists.
The UK’s Guardian newspaper reported on Tuesday night that the leaked database at the heart of the Pegasus project includes the mobile phone numbers of 14 heads of state and heads of government, including sitting presidents Ramaphosa, French President Emmanuel Macron and Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan.
It said Ramaphosa appeared to have been selected by Rwanda in 2019.
Macron was also on a list of potential targets for potential surveillance on behalf of Morocco, Le Monde newspaper reported.
The Guardian wrote: “The appearance of a number on the leaked list — which includes numbers selected by governments that are clients of NSO Group, the Israeli spyware firm — does not mean it was subject to an attempted or successful hack.” NSO insists the database has ‘no relevance’ to the company.
The French presidency said that if the revelations about Macron’s phone were true, they would be very serious. The authorities would investigate them to shed all necessary light on the reports, it said.
Morocco had issued a statement on Monday denying any involvement in using Pegasus and rejecting what it called “unfounded and false allegations”. Moroccan officials could not immediately be reached for comment on the report about Macron on Tuesday.
South Africa and Rwanda have not yet responded to the report but diplomatic relations between the two countries have been frosty following numerous assassination attempts on Rwanda dissidents living in South Africa. President Kagame is widely believed to have ordered the hits, a move that has angered SA.
The Pegasus Project is a ground-breaking collaboration by more than 80 journalists from 17 media organizations in 10 countries coordinated by Forbidden Stories, a Paris-based media non-profit, with the technical support of Amnesty International, who conducted cutting- edge forensic tests on mobile phones to identify traces of the spyware.