of Stefano Montefiori
The French journalist intercepted by order of the Moroccan government: they use us as Trojans to get to our contacts
FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
PARIS “I was warned a few weeks ago by Forbidden Stories that two reporters from Mediapart, Director Edwy Plenel and I, had been targeted by Moroccan services through Pegasus. We agreed to give our phones to Amnesty International’s Security Lab in Berlin for a technical analysis. It turns out that Plenel was monitored for two months in 2019, and I for fifteen months, from the end of February 2019 to the end of May 2020. They spied not only the phone calls, but all the contents of the mobile phone. Contacts, photos, emails, WhatsApp messages, everything ». Lénaïg Bredoux, forty gender editor of the online newspaper Mediapart, is among the more than 50,000 victims of Pegasus software in the world.
Why was she spied on?
“This is an interesting aspect, not a trivial one. There are two levels: the espionage for obvious reasons, of a state against its opponents. For example, that of Saudi Arabia against the relatives of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi. And then the second level, larger and perhaps more worrying for everyone, in which the motifs are more opaque. In my case, I am a French citizen spied on by the Moroccan government, a very serious circumstance from a diplomatic point of view. The reasons may be different: perhaps because in 2015 I wrote a series of articles on Abdellatif Hammouchi, the strong man of Moroccan intelligence. Or maybe because in February 2019 I followed a trial for sexual violence, a subject very followed by the Rabat regime because it sometimes uses it to frame opponents “.
Do you know who ordered the break-in?
“No, and that’s one of the stressful aspects of being spied on. You don’t know what the information will do, you don’t know what exactly they have in their hands, you don’t know who ordered you to be placed under surveillance, and you don’t know for what reason. On a large scale, it becomes a form of willfulness and intimidation ».
Do you think this aspect can mobilize public opinion? Pegasus software was known. The leap in quality this time seems to be the huge amount of people involved.
“I’m not a conspiracy theorist but I believe that a story like this should push everyone to ask questions about data privacy. The amount of stolen information is enormous: a malicious state can use children’s photos or bank account details whenever it wants, for reasons we cannot suspect. “
Could it be that you are the means to reach others?
“Sure. It is possible that we are the Trojan horses to perhaps harm fellow Moroccan journalists. But more generally, as Laurent Richard, founder of Forbidden Stories says, this scandal allows us to see the ordinary face of many spied on: people who ended up on the lists perhaps because one day they met someone. Alongside opponents, journalists, human rights activists, there are ordinary people who may not have chosen to take the risks associated with conducting an investigation. Nobody is safe ».
“We filed a complaint with the director Plenel before the Paris public prosecutor.”
Signs of solidarity from the French authorities?
“Nothing, for now, that I know of. Morocco, an allied country, spying on French citizens in France. The embarrassment is enormous ».
July 19, 2021 (change July 19, 2021 | 22:02)