Israeli Defense Minister to Travel to France to Discuss Spyware Scandal, Iran
Benny Gantz, the Israeli defense minister, will travel to France to meet Wednesday with his French counterpart, Florence Parly. Among the items on the agenda: a report in France’s Le Monde newspaper that the Israeli NSO cybersecurity firm’s Pegasus software was used to spy on French President Emmanuel Macron. Macron’s phone number was allegedly on a list of targets that may have been under surveillance by the government of Morocco, which is thought to be an NSO client. The French president responded by calling for a full investigation into the matter. He’s also changed his number. The Israeli Defense Ministry must approve the export of surveillance technology by companies like NSO. A report published last week by 17 media organizations revealed that Pegasus has been used by government intelligence and law enforcement agencies not only to track terrorists and criminals, as the NSO Group says is its intended, legitimate application, but also to spy on journalists, human rights activists, government officials, and critics of some of the regimes that purchased the software. NSO says the report is “full of wrong assumptions and uncorroborated theories” – a response that hasn’t exactly satisfied Macron or others who were allegedly targeted by the company’s software. Gantz and Parly will also discuss the economic and political crisis in Lebanon and the emerging renewed nuclear agreement with Iran.