Morocco Denies Alleged Infiltration Of Telephones, Files Defamation Case

Morocco Denies Alleged Infiltration Of Telephones, Files Defamation Case

Paris, July 24 (TNA) Morocco has filed defamation claims against Amnesty International and a French NGO who claim its intelligence services used the Pegasus mobile phone spyware against dozens of French journalists, lawyers for the government have informed.

Moroccan King Mohammed VI's phone and those of other royals are also on the list of numbers identified as potential Pegasus targets by Moroccan intelligence services, Radio France reported Tuesday. Morocco has denied the claims by saying that it "never acquired computer software to infiltrate communication devices".

The NGO says it has based its report on a leaked list of 50,000 phone numbers allegedly targeted by the Pegasus cellphone surveillance programme from Israel's NSO Group. "The Moroccan state... wants all possible light cast on these false allegations from these two organisations, who make claims without any concrete or demonstrative evidence whatsoever," the lawyer, Olivier Baratelli, said in a statement.

A first hearing is set for October 8 in Paris, though a trial might not open for another two years.

The International Consortium of Journalists "FORBIDDEN STORIES", which includes 36 journalists, evolving within several international press titles with broad circulation started, on Sunday, July 18, 2021, publishing simultaneously a series of articles, imputing to some countries, including Morocco, a "misuse" of the digital surveillance tool "PEGASUS", manufactured by the Israeli company NSO GROUP, which would have, in this case, allowed to target a large number of telephone numbers.

For Morocco, the relentless campaign of FORBIDDEN STORIES claims, without providing any material evidence, that the targeting of the "PEGASUS" software concerned "35 journalists in Morocco, Algeria, France and Spain".

Responding to his false allegations, the Moroccan authorities said, via the Embassy of Morocco in Paris, the Moroccan government has expressed, in a statement made public, on July 19th, 2021, its great astonishment at the recurrent and coordinated publication, since Sunday 18 July, by foreign newspapers under the banner of a coalition called "Forbidden stories", of erroneous information in which their authors falsely claim that Morocco has infiltrated the telephones of several national and foreign public figures and officials of international organizations through computer software.

The government said it categorically rejects and condemns these unfounded and false allegations, as it has done with previous similar allegations by Amnesty International.

The statement reminded national and international public opinion that Morocco is a State governed by the rule of law, which guarantees the secrecy of personal communications by the force of the Constitution and by virtue of the Kingdom's treaty commitments and judicial and non-judicial laws and mechanisms guaranteeing personal data protection and cybersecurity to all citizens and foreign residents in Morocco.

It added that it is not permitted by the force of the Constitution to access or publish, in whole or in part, the contents of personal communications or to use them against anyone except by order of the independent judiciary and in accordance with the terms and conditions laid down by law. Law enforcement agencies are obliged to respect the provisions of the law and may not act outside its framework.

In a July 21 statement , the Government of Morocco strongly condemns the persistent false, massive and malicious media campaign, evoking an alleged infiltration of the telephone devices of several national and foreign public figures through a computer software.

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