Over the course of a few days, the Moroccan Kingdom has geared up to counter accusations of spying on journalists relayed by UK-based NGO Amnesty International.
According to Moroccan authorities, The NGO released to a pool of international medias an “unsubstantiated” report where it points out the responsibility of the North African Country in using Israeli company NSO software “Pegasus” to spy on one journalist at least.
Morocco’s foreign minister Nasser Bourita said during a press conference last Thursday that “If this organization does not want to provide Morocco with the evidence supporting its report, it will have to present it to the World at a press conference”, asking that the NGO provides “evidence” that Morocco has ever used the spyware. NSO does not release any client list, but the company is known for providing sensitive technologies to governments all over the world, and was instrumental in Mexico’s investigation to track down known drug lord “El Chapo”.
Furthermore, Moroccan press echoed yesterday that the Kingdom and its legal counsel are considering suing Amnesty International on the counts of Defamation, the NGO’s report having caused harm to the country’s image, including with potential Foreign Investors. According to a reliable Moroccan source, “Morocco is evaluating the damage done to its foreign investment potential, at a time where the country is formalizing the restart of its economy. We do not rule out that there was some form of manipulation of Amnesty International, because the competitive landscape between providers of sensitive technologies is very aggressive”.
A Lawsuit on the count of Defamati
Moroccan economic pure player “Medias 24” questioned yesterday the legal basis for such a lawsuit, which would have to be introduced under Uk’s Defamation act of 2013. Furthermore, in a statement released by official agency Maghreb Arabe Press (MAP), Hasna Tribak, Director of Legal Studies and International Cooperation at the Ministry of State for Human Rights and Relations with the Parliament said that “The Moroccan authorities are still waiting for a response to the letter of the Head of Government, from the recipient. The Moroccan authorities are also still waiting for the convincing scientific evidence they have requested”.
According to a cybersecurity expert, there are very few chances that Amnesty International would ever provide whatever evidence it may have, nor that the NGO would come forward with the technical investigation it made on the Moroccan Journalist smartphone, because “it is very difficult, almost impossible, to prove a government’s implication on technological spyware, precisely because the software was designed to be in stealth mode”.