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Macron changes phone in wake of Israeli spyware reports

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)

French President Emmanuel Macron has changed his phone and phone number in light of allegations that Israel's Pegasus spyware might have targeted him, a presidency official has said.

Macron on Thursday held an emergency meeting on cybersecurity at the Élysée Palace and demanded "a strengthening of all security protocols" regarding sensitive means of communication.

The president held the meeting to weigh possible government action after reports that his mobile phone and those of government ministers may have been targeted by the Israeli spyware, the Élysée said.

Macron changes his phones regularly and is “taking the matter very seriously”, government spokesman Gabriel Attal said Thursday on France-Inter radio.

A global media consortium reported this week that Pegasus spyware made by Israeli company NSO Group may have been used to target politicians, activists and journalists in several countries.

French newspaper Le Monde, a member of the consortium, reported that a Moroccan security agency had the mobile phones of Macron and 15 then members of the French government on a list of potential targets of the spyware in 2019.

Morocco’s government has denied wrongdoing and has threatened legal action over what it has characterized as "unfounded" spyware allegations.

Prosecutors in Paris said Tuesday they had opened a probe into allegations that Moroccan intelligence services used the Israeli-made malware Pegasus to spy on several French journalists.

The investigation will examine 10 different charges, including whether there was a breach of personal privacy, fraudulent access to personal electronic devices and any criminal associations among those involved.


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