Mass espionage case is “totally unacceptable” – ZAP

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Johanna Geron / EPA Pool

The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen

A consortium of 17 international media has denounced that journalists, activists and political dissidents around the world have been spied on thanks to a software developed by the Israeli company NSO Group. “If it’s true, it’s totally unacceptable,” replied Ursula von der Leyen.

The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said this Monday that the case of spying on journalists, activists and political dissidents, denounced on Sunday, is “totally unacceptable”.

“We have to confirm. But if it’s true, it’s totally unacceptable.“, said von der Leyen, commenting on allegations of mass espionage to journalists in Prague, stressing that “press freedom is a core value of the European Union.”

A consortium of 17 international media outlets on Sunday denounced that journalists, activists and political dissidents around the world had been spied on thanks to the software developed by the Israeli company NSO Group.

The company, founded in 2011 north of Tel Aviv, markets the spyware Pegasus, which, inserted in a smartphone, lets you access messages, photos, contacts and even listen to the owner’s calls.

The investigation published on Sunday by a consortium of 17 international media, including the French newspaper The world, the british The Guardian and the american The Washington Post, is based on a list obtained by the organizations Forbidden Stories and Amnesty International, which includes 50,000 telephone numbers selected by NSO customers since 2016 for potential surveillance.

To list includes phone numbers of at least 180 journalists, 600 politicians, 85 human rights activists and 65 business leaders, according to the analysis carried out by the consortium, which located many in Morocco, Saudi Arabia and Mexico.

Also a top US official announced that Washington and its allies will denounce “malicious” cyber activities, attributing them to China, which they will accuse of carrying out extortion operations against their companies, but also of a threat to security.

“An unprecedented group of allies and partners including the European Union, UK, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and NATO will join the US to expose China’s Ministry of Security’s malicious cyber activities,” she said. source, who asked not to be identified.

O French government also announced that it will ask for an investigation into suspected espionage. “These are extremely shocking facts and, if they are true, they are extremely serious”, said Gabriel Attal, spokesman for the French Government today.

In Hungary, opposition deputies they also demanded an inquiry into the allegations, alleging suspicions that the Hungarian government used the software to spy on journalists critical of the regime, as well as politicians and businessmen.