Taoufik Bouachrine was selected for surveillance with the Pegasus spyware from 2017 to 2018. His wife, Asmae Bouachrine, was also selected from 2017 to 2019. After Bouachrine’s arrest in 2018, several plaintiffs in the case were also selected for surveillance. Forbidden Stories was unable to analyze the phones to confirm the infection.
Who is he?
Taoufik Bouachrine is a Moroccan journalist and editor, currently serving a 15-year jail sentence for “human trafficking”, “abuse of power for sexual purposes”, “rape and attempted rape”.
Bouachrine is well-known in Morocco for serving as editor of several media outlets. In 2005, he became editor-in-chief of al-Jarida al-Oukhra, a weekly started by Ali Anouzla. The publication was banned a year later. In 2007, he founded Akhbar al-Yaoum, an Arabic-speaking daily that had the reputation of being one of the few critical newspapers still printed. Bouacharine regularly critized the authorities — or Makhzen as is said in Morocco — in his editorials.
In February 2018, the influential journalist was arrested at the newspaper’s headquarters in Casablanca. The trial revealed that cameras had been planted in Boucharine’s office, allegedly showing forced sexual encounters between him and other employees. Several employees testified as plaintiffs but at least two denied having been raped by the editor. One of them was charged after stating publicly she was not a victim and accusing the Moroccan police of altering her statement. The other one hid in a car to avoid testifying.
In October 2019, Boucharine was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Asked about a potential surveillance of Bouachrine, his lawyer told Forbidden Stories that “he was not a trafficker, nor a terrorist, nor a gangster”. “I can only conceive of this in a rogue regime,” he added.
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.”