Morocco denies it used Pegasus spyware, demands Amnesty show proof of claims

Illustrative: A man holds a phone with the NSO Group logo (Yonatan Sindel/ Flash90)
Illustrative: A man holds a phone with the NSO Group logo (Yonatan Sindel/ Flash90)

RABAT, Morocco — Morocco demands Amnesty International provide evidence of its report that Rabat used Israeli-made Pegasus spyware to monitor activists, including a human rights campaigner from the disputed Western Sahara.

Pegasus, developed by the Israeli NSO group, can hack into mobile phones without a user knowing, enabling clients to read every message, track a user’s location and tap into the phone’s camera and microphone.

In July 2021, a global investigation revealed Pegasus has been used by repressive regimes to target journalists, dissidents, diplomats and others.

The Moroccan authorities have consistently denied using the spyware, and dismissed a report by rights group Amnesty as “arbitrary accusations”, the government’s Interministerial Department for Human Rights says today.

The statement came in response to an Amnesty report earlier this month which claimed two phones belonging to prominent activist Aminatou Haidar had been targeted using the spyware.

Rabat denies Amnesty’s report and demanded to see the “material evidence supporting its allegations.”

Morocco has said it “never acquired computer software to infiltrate communication devices.”

Haidar comes from the former Spanish colony of Western Sahara, which Rabat claims as its own sovereign territory but where the separatist Polisario Front seeks independence.

Morocco controls most of the territory and has offered autonomy but insists it must retain sovereignty.

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