‘Pegasus’ Spyware Targeted 10 Prime Ministers, 3 Presidents, and a King

A pictures shows binary code reflected from a computer screen in a woman's eye on October 22, 2012. AFP PHOTO / LEON NEAL (Photo credit should read LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images)
LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images

Spies looking to gain information on world leaders reportedly used the “Pegasus” smartphone spyware to target world leaders including three presidents, ten prime ministers, and a king.

The Washington Post reports that governments worldwide are facing allegations that they used malware developed by the Israeli firm NSO Group to spy on the mobile devices of activists, journalists, corporate executives, and politicians. An international investigation has scrutinized the spyware, named Pegasus, and a list of more than 50,000 phone numbers that included the numbers of hundreds of politicians and government officials.

But the most sought-after targets were fourteen major world leaders including three presidents, ten prime ministers, and a king. None of them offered their mobile devices to the Washington Post and 16 other news organizations that scrutinized the list of phone numbers; making the forensic testing that could have revealed if the devices had been infected by spyware impossible

The Washington Post reports that the officials on the list include:

Three sitting presidents, France’s Emmanuel Macron, Iraq’s Barham Salih and South Africa’s Cyril Ramaphosa. Three current prime ministers, Pakistan’s Imran Khan, Egypt’s Mostafa Madbouly and Morocco’s Saad-Eddine El Othmani.

Seven former prime ministers, who according to time stamps on the list were placed there while they were still in office: Yemen’s Ahmed Obeid bin Daghr, Lebanon’s Saad Hariri, Uganda’s Ruhakana Rugunda, France’s Édouard Philippe, Kazakhstan’s Bakitzhan Sagintayev, Algeria’s Noureddine Bedoui and Belgium’s Charles Michel.

And one king: Morocco’s Mohammed VI.

The Post and its partner news organizations in 10 countries confirmed the ownership of the phone numbers and others cited through public records, journalists’ contact books, and queries to government officials.

Read more at the Washington Post here.

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan or contact via secure email at the address lucasnolan@protonmail.com

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