Former French Ambassador to the NSO Group

French President Emmanuel Macron has said the alleged cyberattack with Israeli spy software Pegasus was a matter of national security. Thursday, he convened an extraordinary defense council at the Elysee Palace. The confidential body that meets above the “Jupiter” nuclear weapons command center also meets in special sessions in the event of terrorist attacks or urgent foreign military operations. The participants, in addition to the ministers of foreign policy and defense, the main heads of the intelligence services and the chief of staff of the army, are subject to the strictest secrecy.

Government spokesman Gabriel Attal stressed on Thursday that the allegations are considered very serious. Prime Minister Jean Castex announced to the National Assembly that “several investigations” are underway, the results of which are not yet known. It is expected that the longtime French ambassador to the United States, Gérard Araud, will be heard by investigators. When he left active service in 2019, the eminent diplomat was recruited by the Israeli group NSO with the title of chief adviser. Its official mandate was to “protect freedoms”.

Macron’s cell phone number on the NSO list

The advisory work of the retired senior diplomat, who also served as French ambassador to Israel, has caused some irritation. Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said at the time, visibly annoyed, that Araud could do whatever he wanted in retirement. Le Drian did not know at the time that his cell phone number, like President Macron’s, would appear on an NSO list. Araud was recruited by NSO along with a former security adviser to President Obama, Juliette Kayyem, and the first US Secretary of State for “Homeland Security”, Tom Ridge, to prepare for a trial.

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The Herzliya secret society near Tel Aviv was sued by Whatsapp in a California court in October 2019 for computer fraud, trespassing and breach of terms of service. Whatsapp CEO Will Cathcart wrote in a guest article in the Washington Post that he had proof that the NSO Group helped install Pegasus spyware through Whatsapp accounts. Around 100 journalists, lawyers and NGO workers were spied on.

California judge Phyllis Hamilton confirmed the Facebook subsidiary’s lawsuit last summer, and the lawsuit is still ongoing. “Pegasus is surveillance technology that won’t go away. So I considered taking a closer look and trying to civilize them, ”Araud explained about his consultant contract at the end of 2019. His American consultant colleague, Harvard professor Kayyem, terminated his consultant contract in February 2020. She had already been strongly criticized for wanting to lead a seminar on press freedom at Harvard.

Hans-Christian Rößler and Michaela Wiegel Posted / updated: Recommendations: 3 Axel Weidemann Posted / updated:, Recommendations: 20 Markus Wehner, Berlin Posted / updated:, Recommendations: 18

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