Like millions of adults around the world, many heads of state and government live glued to screens, to mobile phones. Donald Trump, president of the United States until last January and compulsive user of the social network Twitter, perhaps it was the most extreme example, but it is not the only one.
Emmanuel Macron, who is allegedly on a target list for the Moroccan secret services’ telephone espionage, cannot live without his mobile devices. According to The world, has at least four.
The French president owns two iPhones that he uses for private or professional conversations and messages, but officially not secret ones. It also has a model called CryptoSmart: a Samsung with reinforced security that allows you to make calls and send encrypted text messages, although for this the receiver must have the same model. And, finally, according to the aforementioned newspaper, it has a Teorem, “an ultra-secure telephone” manufactured by the French company Thalès which, being “heavy, complex and very uncomfortable, is only used for the most sensitive communications in the Republic, protected by [los grados de clasificación] confidential-defense and secret-defense ”.
One of Macron’s iPhones is possibly in the viewer of the spies of the Kingdom of Morocco, as revealed this week Forbidden Stories media consortium and the organization Amnesty International. Morocco, according to these revelations, included the number of the president of the French Republic in a list with candidates to be infected with the Pegasus program, which the Israeli company NSO Group sells to state clients. The program allows you to capture calls, messages, contacts and photographs of the attacked devices, and even activate the microphone and the camera.
Morocco, a strategic ally of France, denies having ever contracted the Pegasus program to NSO and rejects what it describes as “unfounded accusations”. The Israeli company, for its part, maintains that Macron “has never been a target and has never been targeted by NSO clients.”
In France, the debate on the slight that can lead to a friendly country spying on the head of state It immediately gave way to a discussion about Macron’s possible levity in protecting his communications. Since the news of an attempted espionage on Macron was published on Tuesday, the French government and the Eliseo palace have avoided summoning Morocco.
“The President of the Republic has ordered a series of investigations in the broad sense,” he announced on Wednesday, in a television interview, Prime Minister Jean Castex. But he added: “It would be irresponsible, on our part, to say things while we do not know what exactly it is about and the measures that this situation might require.”
To board the revelations about Pegasus, Macron convened on Thursday a restricted Council of defense and national security, a format that meets weekly and in which the ministers of Defense, Foreign, Interior and Economy, among others, participate. At the end of the meeting, a source from the French presidency, who requested anonymity, declared: “If the facts are proven, they are obviously very serious. At this time, no certainty has appeared [sobre las revelaciones], so it is advisable to be cautious in the comments ”.
The question, for France, seems not so much who spied on Macron, but why – after the scandal in the last decade over the mass surveillance of the United States National Security Agency (NSA, for its acronym in English) – the phones of the president remain vulnerable.
One explanation may be that innovation in spying technologies outpaces the development of means to protect against infections. But another is that the people in the objective of the secret services do not act with due precautions. “There has been an imprudence,” lamented on the RTL station Senator Bruno Retailleau, head of the parliamentary group Los Republicanos. Retailleau advised Macron to put his personal phone in a drawer and accused him of “naivety.”
The newspaper Release he assured on thursday that Macron’s predecessors – the socialist François Hollande (2012-2017) and the conservative Nicolas Sarkozy (2007-2012) – also used insecure phones without the required caution. And he recalled that, when Sarkozy came to power, the technical chief of the French foreign espionage service, Bernard Barbier, gave him a demonstration about how vulnerable his phones were to the intrusion of foreign powers.
“The secret does not exist,” replied Sarkozy, as Barbier would recall years later, in a talk with students available on the YouTube channel. The president then grabbed the secure phone that his spies had offered him. Always according to Barbier, he threw it in the trash and said: “I will never use those things, in what we do there are no secrets, nothing is secret.”