Maria Moukrim was selected for surveillance with the Pegasus spyware from 2017 to 2019. Forbidden Stories was unable to analyze the phone to confirm the infection. Two colleagues who worked with her within the now-defunct Moroccan Association for Investigative Journalism (AMJI), journalist Hicham Mansouri and historian Maati Monjib, were successfully targeted with the Pegasus spyware.
Who is she?
Maria Moukrim is a well-known Moroccan journalist. In 2012, she started with Taoufik Bouachrine the editing company Maroc 24 and the news site Febrayer which means February. When the website launched, Moukrim said it was targeted by a group of nationalist hacker who thought it was related to the February 20th Movement, commonly known worldwide as the Arab Spring. “They thought it was going to be the official website of the February 20th Movement. They hacked into my Gmail account to obtain the password to the server and then bought all the domain names containing the word “Febrayer”,” she told Privacy International.
Moukrim was also the president of the Moroccan Association for Investigative Journalism (AMJI) until July 2014. Along with six other journalists and activists involved in AMJI, she was charged in 2015 with “undermining state security” and “failing to report foreign funding” after they started a project to introduce citizen journalism to Moroccans through a smartphone app. In January 2021, the final sentencing came to a 470 euro fine (500 dirhams) for Moukrim.
Moroccan authorities said there was no proof of them being a client of NSO Group. NSO Group did not answer Forbidden Stories’ questions on specific targets but said it “will continue to investigate all credible claims of misuse and take appropriate action based on the results of these investigations.”