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Morocco sues Spain reporter over spyware bugging claim

Morocco sues Spain reporter over spyware bugging claim

Morocco sues Spain reporter over spyware bugging claim

Morocco sues Spain reporter over spyware bugging claim( Twitter )

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  • Morocco files lawsuit against Spanish journalist who claims his phone was targeted by spyware.
  • Ignacio Cembrero worked for news website El Confidencial.
  • Media investigation accused Morocco of using Israeli-made spyware to target journalists. Rabat has denied the allegations.
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Morocco has filed a lawsuit against a Spanish journalist who claimed his phone was targeted by Pegasus spyware planted by Rabat, according to judicial sources.

A court in Madrid accepted the complaint against Ignacio Cembrero, an expert on Spain-Morocco relations who works for the news website El Confidencial, according to a spokesman for the regional court authority.

Last year, an investigation by 17 media organizations accused Morocco of using Israeli-made spyware, which infiltrates mobile phones in order to extract data or to activate a camera or microphone to spy on their owners. Rabat has denied the allegations.

According to a copy of the complaint seen by AFP, Morocco is demanding that Cembrero withdraw his allegations and pay Morocco’s legal costs.

“The Kingdom of Morocco is not involved in spying on Ignacio Cembrero nor on any other citizen” and “does not have the Pegasus programme”, the lawyer representing Rabat said.

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Cembrero had also flagged the lawsuit on his Twitter account.

“Morocco is taking me to court for accusing it of spying with Pegasus,” he tweeted on Monday.

He has said it is “the fourth time” Morocco had sued him in Spain but the first time it had demanded he “retract” claims Rabat was responsible for spying with Pegasus software.

“It’s a political trial to curtail journalists’ freedom of expression,” he tweeted.

A vast investigation by more than 80 reporters in 10 countries revealed in July 2021 that Pegasus spyware had been used against at least 50,000 people around the world.

They included at least 180 journalists as well as human rights defenders, politicians and military top brass.

The information was first leaked to Amnesty International and French NGO Forbidden Stories who then shared it with more than a dozen media organizations.

Morocco was singled out as one of the countries that had purchased the programme from Israel’s NGO Group and had used the spyware against journalists.

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According to Forbidden Stories, Cembrero’s phone was one of several phones targeted “for targeting” by Pegasus.

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