The French President, Emmanuel Macron, has reportedly changed his phone number amid revelation that he was also targeted by Israeli spy viruses who are attacking other politicians, journalists, and activists. The spyware is made by Israeli powers and is called Pegasus.

14 French ministers along with the President were reportedly being surveilled by Morocco, however sources of Moroccan intelligence have denied using Pegasus and actively spying on the politicians of France.

Pegasus has a number of functions and abilities, such as extracting private messages, photos, and emails from devices. It also allows the user to record from the microphones and cameras without the user being aware. This is a highly dangerous and invasive spyware which has allegedly swept the government of France. 

The spyware was created by the NSO Group who are based in Israel in 2016. An official from the group named Haim Gelfans told an Israeli news source that Macron was not a target of Pegasus. Other possibly targeted politicians include the presidents of South Africa and Iraq along with the prime ministers of Pakistan, Morocco, and Egypt. 

The Pegasus Project issued an investigation into Pegasus and found 23 phones belonging to significant politicians were hacked and another 14 phones showed signs of an attempted hacking using the software.

Pegasus is an extremely advanced software which can be sent to phones and put into action extremely quickly and easily. Once a link to the software is sent as a message to a cellular device, it can automatically begin the hacking process without even being clicked on by the user. After being sent, it has the ability to read all messages and gather information of the location and surroundings of the device.

An official from Macron’s team stated, “He’s got several phone numbers. This does not mean he has been spied on. It’s just additional security.” There is no confirmation that Pegasus was actively being used to steal information from the President and constantly spy on him, but considering the investigations issued and the results found, the French President thought it would be best to change his main phone number and personal information. 

A French government official, Gabriel Attal, stated after an emergency cabinet meeting surrounding the potential hack, “Obviously we’re taking (this) very seriously.” 

Anoosha Murtaza is a Gen Z Voice at the Pavlovic Today and a rising third-year student at the University of Virginia. Anoosha has a passion for good journalism, strong political views, and social justice. 

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