Germany and Pegasus: “Das Skandal”

By Abdelkader Filali Professor. Saint Paul University Ottawa.

Connecting the Dots:

On Monday June 22, 2020, viewers and readers of Deutsche Welle’ (DW from now on) main German state-run news station, were shown a “scandalous” story after publishing the news as follows: “Amnesty International accused Morocco of using software developed by an Israeli company to spy on journalists and politicians inside Morocco and in Europe, while the Moroccan government did not respond to these accusations.

After the Israeli company promised to investigate the matter. The station added that Amnesty confirmed that the Moroccan government used technology developed by the Israeli "NSO" group in espionage.

On July 20, 2021, DW overwhelmed announcing the following script: An investigation published on Sunday in several media outlets, including the newspapers "Le Monde", the Guardian and "Washington Post", indicated that Moroccan security service used the "Pegasus" program, which was developed by the Israeli company "NSO", to spy on people.

On Tuesday, September 7, 2021, the German Der Spiegel in a surprising article declared with a profound certitude that the German Federal Police Office has secretly bought the controversial Pegasus surveillance software from NSO. Most recently, the federal government refused to provide information

We ask where are those who launched a media campaign against Morocco? Where is Amnesty International, where is Washington Post, where are the so called “human rights activists”? We called them “Human rights entrepreneurs”

On the same day, Le Monde the French newspaper published the following title: “Pegasus: German Federal Police were also spyware client. The German press reveals that the main German police service has made a secret contract with NSO

Group, to purchase the software”.

The false crucifixion story was but one example of Germany-backed disinformation deployed during Morocco’s rising economy and influence regionally (Africa) and internationally (U.S. and Europe).

Germany in the pursuit of geopolitical ends, has leveraged disinformation tools and social media networks to spread a narrative for the only purpose: to block Morocco’s development ambitions. To fulfil this, distortions, and falsehoods to shape public perceptions and undermine trust in the truth have been used by Germany: “The cradle of Democracy”.

The “Human Rights Entrepreneurs”: Activists for hire

On average, a false story reaches 1,500 people six times more quickly than a factual story. This is true of false stories about any topic, but stories about politics are the most likely to go viral .

To understand why we have called them “Human rights entrepreneurs”, it is useful to dissect the different elements it encompasses. By nature, an entrepreneur wants to sell his or her products sometimes by any means. It can include authentic frames used in a deliberately wrong context to make a false connection, such as an authentic and a regular situation that can happen anywhere in this world and displayed with a fake caption by using a leftist repertoire. It can also take the form of manipulated message and content, where controversial elements are twisted into innocuous contexts to evoke repression.

The activists for hire succeed, in part, because of psychological vulnerabilities in the way people consume and process their information. This include how these human rights entrepreneurs play to emotions and biases, simplifie complex topics, allow the audience to feel as though they are exposing truths, and offers identity and belonging.

Although many of the hallmarks of countries with colonial heritage such as Germany are present in modern-day Germany, what has changed now is the speed with which its narratives are created and disseminated.

1 Robinson Meyer, “The Grim Conclusions of the Largest-Ever Study of Fake News,” The Atlantic, 08 March 2018,https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2018/03/largest-study-ever-fake-news-mit-twitter/555104/.

Through DW Arabic, and Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Germany has attempted to influence institutions and think tanks by aligning with local electronic news outlets in the MENA region.

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