Asharq Al-awsat English Middle-east and International News and Opinion from Asharq Al-awsat Newspaper

Saudi Official Denies the Kingdom Used Spyware to Track Communications

Saudi Official Denies the Kingdom Used Spyware to Track Communications

Thursday, 22 July, 2021 - 08:45
A Saudi flag raised above a highway in Saudi Arabia, Asharq Al-Awsat

A Saudi official denied on Wednesday claims by some media outlets that the Kingdom used spyware to track communications.

“These claims are baseless. The kingdom does not approve such practices,” state TV quoted the official, without naming him.

The Saudi official’s stance came at a time when also Morocco condemned a media campaign launched against it for allegedly using spyware to eavesdrop on the cellphones of public and foreign figures.

“The Kingdom of Morocco strongly condemns the persistent false, massive and malicious media campaign,” an official statement said.

The government said it “rejects these false and unfounded allegations and challenges their peddlers … to provide any tangible and material evidence in support of their surreal stories.”

The statement added that Morocco has once again become vulnerable to this type of attacks, which “exposes the desire of some media consortiums and NGOs to place it under their command and tutelage,” noting that “what angers them is that this is not possible.”

It is noteworthy that French public broadcaster Radio France reported that the phones of Moroccan King Mohammed VI and members of his entourage were also among potential targets of the Pegasus spyware.

Rabat has denied buying or using the Pegasus spyware after a group of 17 international media organizations reported that it had targeted thousands of phone numbers of journalists, politicians and activists at home and abroad.

The journalism nonprofit Forbidden Stories, which was one of the organizations to spread the allegations, is known for launching several hateful attacks on Morocco, a Moroccan official who requested anonymity had told Asharq Al-Awsat.

“If the (Forbidden Stories) report referred to targeting the monarch and his entourage, how can it accuse Rabat in the same breath?” the official questioned.

The source added that Morocco is "not a digital jungle", given that the 2011 Moroccan constitution guarantees in Chapter 24 the secrecy of communications and protects privacy.

Editor Picks