Morocco said Wednesday it is investigating a journalist for receiving “foreign funding” for “intelligence services” days after rights group Amnesty alleged the government had used Israeli spyware to bug his phone.
Omar Radi dismissed the allegations against him as “ridiculous” and told AFP the government was tarnishing Morocco’s reputation by attacking anyone who dared to be critical.
Amnesty International said on Monday that software developed by Israeli security firm NSO Group was used to insert spyware on to Radi’s mobile phone.
The Pegasus software can switch on the phone’s camera and microphone as well as access data, effectively turning it into a pocket spy.
Amnesty said Radi had been “systematically targeted by the Moroccan authorities due to his journalism and activism”.
In March, he was given a four-month suspended sentence for criticising a judge in a tweet.
NSO is being sued in the United States by messaging service WhatsApp over alleged cyber-espionage on human rights activists and others.
The Israeli firm says it only licenses its software to governments for “fighting crime and terror” and that it investigates credible allegations of misuse.
Related: Israel Spyware Firm NSO Operates in Shadowy Cyber World
Related: Ex-NSO Employee Accused of Stealing Spyware Source Code