TEL AVIV, July 21. /TASS/. Israel’s Pegasus software did not target or potentially target the 50,000 phone numbers of politicians, journalists and activists, who could have been spied on with the surveillance program, a spokesperson for the Pegasus developer, NSO Group, told TASS on Wednesday in response to a relevant request.
"The list is not a list of Pegasus targets or potential targets. The numbers in the list are not related to NSO Group in any way. Any claim that a name in the list is necessarily related to a Pegasus target or potential target is erroneous and false," the spokesperson noted.
On July 18, Forbidden Stories, a Paris-based journalism NPO, and 17 media outlets around the world published an investigation stating that a number of countries could have spied on at least 50,000 people across the globe using the Pegasus spyware developed by the Israeli NSO Group. The right to use it is given exclusively to states and government agencies with a special permit by Israel’s authorities, which must be issued in each individual case.
The Guardian reported on Wednesday that heads of states and international organizations could have been targeted by Pegasus, particularly naming French President Emmanuel Macron, South African leader Cyril Ramaphosa, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, World Health Organization head Tedros Adhanom, and President of the European Council Charles Michel.
The NSO Group said that the app is used to combat crime and terrorism, and branded the information from the investigation as slander that government agencies collect data about journalists, politicians and human rights activists with its help. Later on, the app’s developers admitted the possibility of abuse by some of the NSO Group’s clients.