Soulaiman Raissouni was selected for surveillance with the Pegasus spyware over a two-year period, starting in 2017. Forbidden Stories was unable to analyze the phone to confirm the infection.
Who is he?
Soulaiman Raissouni is a Moroccan journalist currently serving a five year jail sentence for sexual assault. Raissouni and his supporters have denounced the trial as being political. In April 2021, he entered a hunger strike as a protest.
Raissouni worked for the news site Hespress before he was appointed in 2018 as the director of Akhbar al-Yaoum, the leading independent Arabic-speaking daily. He replaced Taoufik Bouachrine who had been arrested on sexual assault charges that year.
He took over Bouachrine’s role as director but also as editorialist. During his two years on the job, he was known for writing columns that were often critical of the monarchy. In 2019, his niece, Hajar Raissouni, who also wrote for the daily, was arrested along with her fiance and charged with illegal abortion. Following international pressure by human rights organizations, she was pardoned by the King in Octobter 2019. Both were selected for surveillance with Pegasus spyware prior to their arrest.
In May 2020, Soulaiman Raissouni was arrested on sexual assault charges. The case was based on a denunciation on social media by an anonymous LGBTQ activist. Raissouni’s name did not appear in the social media post that was the base of his arrest. After more than a year of pretrial detention, he was eventually sentenced to five years in prison in July 2021.
In March 2021, burdened by both judicial and financial hurdles, the publication of Akhbar al-Yaoum stopped.
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.”