Nineteen months after Morocco, victim of a “gigantic international destabilization enterprise”, filed a complaint against some French media and NGOs, which accused it of having used the spyware “Pegasus”, “no evidence has been provided to date”, Olivier Baratelli, lawyer of the Kingdom in France, said Friday in Paris.
Speaking at a press conference on the latest developments in this case and the legal actions taken by Morocco, the lawyer denounced a “great manipulation of information” and a “huge rumor” that has targeted Morocco and its administrations.
“Today, 19 months later, there is nothing. We knew that it was false and that it was a rumor and that it was a gigantic international destabilization enterprise” aimed at Morocco, said Baratelli.
He recalled that Morocco had immediately launched legal proceedings and, a few days later, ten direct quotes were presented before the criminal court in Paris for defamation against “Forbiden Stories” and “Amnesty International” (AI), and the “most fervent supporters” of these theses in France, namely the media Le Monde, France Info, the investigation unit of France Inter, Médiapart and Humanité.
These cases were argued and reargued on February 15 before the Paris Court of Appeals, said Baratelli, reporting an “impression of real listening” on the part of the judges, who will deliver their judgments on April 12.
“We really have great confidence in the decisions that will be made,” said the lawyer, recalling that as early as November 2021, the rumor had already “deflated” after the then Prime Minister, Jean Castex, had declared in the National Assembly that the phone of President Emmanuel Macron was never infected, after submitting it to the French services who had examined it and found that the device did not include any trace of spyware.
“We knew it was false and yet, in November, Le Monde and France Inter continued to spread the rumor, so were launched five defamation proceedings,” added the lawyer.
To support their theses, some journalists had filed a complaint at the same time of disseminating the news story, a “grotesque and unbelievable” situation, he noted, making known that this complaint was followed by the prosecutor’s office of Paris during a little more than one year.
“We met with the prosecutor, we have fed his file and we have demonstrated, scientific evidence in support – provided by a college of experts in computer science – that it was impossible for Morocco to use this software, so after a year, this prosecutor of the Republic has considered that we were facing one of the greatest media manipulation of all time,” he said.
He added that the Kingdom’s lawyers in France have presented all the evidence that Morocco has never purchased, acquired or used directly or indirectly Pegasus, and the prosecutor of the republic has finally considered that indeed it was necessary to open this case more widely and has opened a judicial investigation which was entrusted in September 2022 to two investigating magistrates.
“Morocco joined as a civil party on February 6. We are a party to this case and we will be able to work, hand in hand, with the investigating judges to completely dismantle this rumor and close the door once and for all of this media rumor,” he said.