Pegasus: French judicial probe confirms technical proof of espionage against Mediapart journalists

On July 29th, Mediapart journalists were questioned as part of the preliminary investigation opened by the Paris public prosecution services following our formal complaint against “persons unknown” over the use of the Pegasus spyware to infect and retrieve information from their mobile phones. Technical analyses of the phones carried out during the interviews by police have confirmed the evidence first revealed by the Forbidden Stories’ journalistic consortium and the Amnesty International Security Lab.

Lénaïg Bredoux and Edwy Plenel, the two Mediapart journalists whose mobile phones were revealed by the Forbidden Stories investigation (the Pegasus project) to have been infected by the Pegasus spyware (see our report here), were interviewed at length on July 29th by the French judicial police (PJ). They were questioned as part of the preliminary investigation launched by Paris public prosecutor Rémy Heitz on July 20th, the day after we lodged a formal complaint against “persons unknown”, and which was filed immediately after the espionage we were the victims of was made public.  

The interviews were held at the Paris headquarters of the French National Agency for the Security of Information Systems (ANSSI), a body that reports to the General Secretary for Defence and National Security (SGDSN). Lénaïg Bredoux and Edwy Plenel were questioned by officers of the central office for the fight against criminal activities linked to information and communication technologies, the OCLCTIC, which works under the auspices of the anti-cybercrime branch of the judicial police. The interviews were held in the presence of our lawyers, Emmanuel Tordjman and François de Cambiaire, from the law firm Seattle.

Just as they did when the Forbidden Stories journalistic consortium contacted them at the end of April, following the discovery that their mobile phones were among a list of 50,000 others that were targeted by foreign states using the spyware sold by the Israeli company NSO Group, Lénaïg Bredoux and Edwy Plenel accepted that their two phones be submitted for technical analyses during the interviews.   

Carried out with the guarantee that personal data was not recorded and that the examination focussed only on technical data, the analyses by the ANSSI technicians revealed a positive result: for both of the phones, they came to the same conclusions as those of the Amnesty International Security Lab, confirming that they were infected by the Pegasus spyware, the methods used to do so, the dates concerned and the duration of the surveillance.  

This confirmation was recorded in a formal statement during the interviews, when our two journalists also explained why both the technical evidence and the chronological context indicated that the operators of the spyware were the Moroccan intelligence services. Amnesty International has published the detailed results of the technical analyses which attest to this (see more here).

On July 28th, the day before the interviews, Mediapart, as also French daily Le Monde and public radio group Radio France, received notification that we were the subject of legal action filed by Morocco, represented by its ambassador in France, for alleged defamation. The notification was sent by Morocco’s lawyer, Olivier Baratelli.

The initial stage of the judicial investigation, which, although having only just begun, has confirmed in both precise cases the revelations of the Forbidden Stories reports, renders somewhat risible the screaming and outraged tone employed by the lawyer to insist that his client is in no way involved in the affair.

Meanwhile, if you haven’t already seen our coverage in English of the Pegasus revelations, they can be found here, here, here, and here, (and all our coverage in French, in a dedicated page here), and do take a look, and share with others, our special ‘Live’ video of debates (below, in French) on the scandal.

Projet Pegasus : soirée live exceptionnelle sur Mediapart © Mediapart

 

 

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