Morocco, Israeli Company Push Back on Hacking Scandal

By Luis Arellano

The Kingdom of Morocco and the Israeli company NGO are pushing back on
claims that they were jointly involved in efforts to spy on dissidents in

NSO Group, an Israeli technology firm, stands accused of exporting a spyware
called Pegasus that allows remote surveillance of smartphones. Governments from
Spain to India have faced protests following accusations. The claims made in a
serious of stories published by Forbidden Stories, an NGO, make the claim that
the technology was being used to target journalists and politicians. Other
media outlet picked up the story.

Yet, governments and the NSO group are pushing back on the claim. In a
statement NSO categorically denied the allegation. Suggesting instead that its
technology only had legitimate uses for law-enforcement.

“Our technologies are being used every day to break up pedophilia
rings, sex and drug-trafficking rings, locate missing and kidnapped children,
locate survivors trapped under collapsed buildings, and protect airspace
against disruptive penetration by dangerous drones. Simply put, NSO Group is on
a life-saving mission, and the company will faithfully execute this mission
undeterred, despite any and all continued attempts to discredit it on false
grounds,” NSO said in a statement.

The government of Morocco has been particularly incensed by these
accusations. In particular due to the fact they build on previous accusations
raised by Amnesty International. Indeed the apparent targeting of Morocco maybe
more in common with a smear campaign than anything else. Some of the
accusations defy credulity given the scale of the operations involved would be
difficult to manage.

“Morocco is a State governed by the rule of law, which guarantees the
secrecy of personal communications by the force of the Constitution and by
virtue of the Kingdom’s treaty commitments and judicial and non-judicial laws
and mechanisms guaranteeing personal data protection and cybersecurity to all
citizens and foreign residents in Morocco,” a Moroccan government
statement clarified

As with the previous accusations, Morocco through down the gauntlet to
provide evidence of the claim.

“Aware of the ulterior motives and aims behind the dissemination of
these false allegations and their context, the Moroccan government challenges
the above-mentioned collective, as it did with Amnesty International, to
provide realistic and scientific evidence that can be subject to professional,
impartial and independent expertise and counter-expertise on the veracity of
these allegations.” For Israel, a country in look of friends, such spying makes little sense.

While none of the journalists involved are publishing fully the material on
which they are basing their claims a number of unanswered questions remain from
the incident. Indeed, analysts say efforts to spy on foreign officials are not
likely worth the national security risk given that once exposed it would open
the nation launching such an operation to similar attacks