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Emmanuel Macron. Photo: Ludovic Marin/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

French President Emmanuel Macron and 13 other world leaders are among those on a list of suspected surveillance targets of NSO spyware, the Guardian reported Tuesday.

Catch up quick: The Pegasus Project investigation reported that Israel-based cybersecurity firm NSO Group's spyware had been planted on the phones of heads of state, journalists, activists and lawyers across the world.

  • The list of phone numbers that forms the project's key evidence doesn't prove that all phones on the list were hacked, but the organizations and newsrooms that conducted the investigation determined they were potential surveillance targets.

Driving the news: Other world leaders whose numbers appeared on the list include South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, and World Health Organization director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, per the Guardian.

  • The phone numbers of Macron, former French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, and 14 French ministers also appeared on the list, allegedly indicating they were selected by an NSO client, in this case an unidentified Moroccan security service, as potential targets of surveillance, French daily newspaper Le Monde reported Tuesday.
  • The Paris Prosecutor's office also announced Tuesday that it was opening an investigation into the use of the Pegasus spyware software with a list of potential charges, including "violation of privacy, illegal use of data and illegally selling spyware," notes AP.

State of play: A French government spokesperson told Le Monde that if the allegations are true they would be "very serious."

  • But NSO has countered that an appearance of a number on the list does not mean that number was selected for surveillance, and that the list of numbers has "no relevance," according to the Guardian.
  • An NSO Group spokesperson also denied that Macron and Tedros Ghebreyesus were "targets," per the Guardian.
  • In a press release Sunday, NSO Group said they "firmly deny the false allegations made in their report" and added that they were considering a defamation lawsuit.

Go deeper: Report: Spyware used to target journalists, activists and world leaders.

Go deeper

Too big to cover alone: Newsrooms team up

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

News outlets are increasingly willing to work together on big, multifaceted stories — including this week's reporting on leaked documents from a Facebook whistleblower.

Why it matters: Collaborative efforts help bring more resources to bear on complex stories, some of which require a global reporting effort. But they require high degrees of coordination, and competition can sometimes get in the way.

The hard math behind America's labor shortage

Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Congressional Budget Office; Chart: Axios Visuals

Yes, the pandemic has created unusual temporary labor market dynamics. But in the bigger picture, the 2010s were a golden age for companies seeking cheap labor. The 2020s are not.

The big picture: In the 2010s, the massive millennial generation was entering the workforce, the massive baby bo0m generation was still hard at work, and there was a multi-year hangover from the deep recession caused by the global financial crisis.

Advocates fret Roe v. Wade's 49th anniversary could be its last

Photo: Leigh Vogel/Getty Images for Women's March Inc

As Saturday marks the 49th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court's landmark decision that legalized abortion access in the U.S., advocates warn the ruling is "more at risk now than ever."

The big picture: The Supreme Court in December heard a challenge to a Mississippi 15-week abortion ban that could throw Roe's survival into question, or at least narrow its scope.