Israel’s Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Wednesday told his French counterpart that his country was taking spying allegations surrounding Pegasus software — developed by Israeli cyber-surveillance firm NSO — “seriously”.
The software is suspected of being used by Moroccan authorities to spy on President Emmanuel Macron and other French officials.
Gantz, who was on a visit to Paris, met French Defense Minister Florence Parly, Directorate-General for External Security (DGSE) Head Bernard Emie and leaders of the French Jewish community.
“Minister Gantz addressed the topic of NSO and stated that Israel is taking the allegations seriously,” a statement by the Israeli Defense Ministry said.
“He noted that the State of Israel approves the export of cyber products exclusively to governmental entities, for lawful use and only for the purpose of preventing and investigating crime and counter-terrorism.”
Gantz also told Parly that officials had visited NSO’s office on Wednesday and “Israel is investigating the allegations thoroughly.”
Pegasus — which can switch on a phone’s camera and microphone and gather its data —created an international outcry after a list of around 50,000 numbers, allegedly selected by NSO customers as potential espionage targets, was leaked to human rights groups. It included the mobile phone numbers of several heads of state and journalists.
The Israeli cyber-security firm has said that it only sells Pegasus to approved governments to fight crime and terrorism. It has also denied that Macron specifically was targeted and disputed other individual details from the reports.