Traces of NSO spy software were found on the cell phone of journalist Omar Radi. Authorities are now questioning the reporter after reports.
The response from the state was only three days away: On Monday, the SZ had in cooperation with several international media and the research network Forbidden stories reports of the hacker attack allegedly used by Moroccan authorities to spy on the mobile phone of journalist Omar Radi. Digital forensic scientists from Amnesty International had found traces of spy software from the Israeli company NSO on Radi’s device, which, according to its own statement, was actually developed to fight crime, but with which political activists and journalists were apparently repeatedly spied on.
On Wednesday, an official stood in front of Radi’s parents’ house, the SZ journalist reports in chat messages, and handed over a letter from the National Brigade of the Judicial Police (BNPJ). A subpoena for questioning at 9:30 am this Thursday. The exact allegations on which the officials wanted to hear Radi were not mentioned in the letter, but on Wednesday evening the Attorney General of the Kingdom confirmed rumors circulating: The Moroccan authorities are now investigating the spied journalists for espionage – more precisely because of the “suspicion of acceptance of Funding from foreign sources related to intelligence groups “.
The days before Forbidden stories the manipulation of Radi’s smartphone revealed that articles had appeared on gossip sites on the Internet that detailed Radi’s account movements and whispered about foreign donors. Allegations of espionage and treason are often used in many authoritarian countries in the Middle East and North Africa to discredit unpopular votes. As a journalist, Radi is also for international media such as the BBC, al-Jazeera and Le Monde active.
According to Amnesty International, the software called “Pegasus”, which was used to spy on Radi, can be installed on smartphones without the user having to click on an infected link – it is sufficient if the mobile phone in question comes close to a manipulated radio cell. Moroccan authorities refused to comment on the attack on Omar Radi’s smartphone, and NSO said it was “deeply concerned”.
In an interview with the SZ, Radi described the BNPJ police agency as “the elite, our FBI”, but in the past there have been repeated allegations of torture and ill-treatment by its officers. However, he was never violent in previous surveys, Radi said. But he was not afraid that the BNPJ had always remained “elegant” in dealing with him. Radi could not yet tell whether the officials were behaving correctly this time. His questioning continued on Thursday.