Pegasus case: the phones of five French ministers infected with spyware

the essential The consortium of journalists “Forbidden stories” with the help of Amnesty International published in July an investigation into the spyware Pegasus: journalists, activists, lawyers, rights defenders of Man but also political figures including French ministers appear to be placed under surveillance.

The phones of at least five French ministers and a diplomat attached to the Elysee Palace have been infected with the Pegasus spyware, according to the French site Mediapart, information confirmed to AFP on Friday by two sources familiar with the matter.

Phones got infected with 2019 and 2020 and presented markers of infection by the spyware marketed by the Israeli company NSO, during their examination by the French security services, according to Mediapart.

To read also: “Pegasus Project”: spied on by Morocco, Mediapart and the Chained Duck file a complaint

The ministers concerned are Jean-Michel Blanquer (Education), Jacqueline Gourault (Cohesion of the territories, dependent on the Ministry of the Interior), Julien Denormandie (Agriculture since July 2020, City and Housing previously), Emmanuelle Wargon (Housing, Ecological Transition previously), S├ębastien Lecornu (Overseas)

To read also: Pegasus project: Emmanuel Macron and Edouard Philippe among the targets of Morocco

A French diplomat also concerned

A diplomat from the diplomatic cell of the Elysee Palace, working with President Emmanuel Macron on international issues, is also concerned.

No official source solicited by AFP has commented on this information, nor NSO. But two sources close to the case who requested anonymity confirmed to AFP the veracity of this information.

“My phone was one of those looked at by the National Information Systems Security Agency, I haven’t yet back from the investigation so I can not confirm anything at this stage “, commented on the site of the newspaper L’Opinion Ms. Wargon, who specified that she changed her phone.

“The minister is not a custodian of state secrets so we do not see the usefulness of having listened to her,” her cabinet also told AFP.

A survey published from 17 July by a consortium 000 international media revealed that the Pegasus software, designed by the Israeli company NSO Group, could have been used to spy on the numbers at least 180 journalists, 180 politicians, 85 human rights activists or 50 business leaders of different countries.

This journalistic work is based on a list of 18 000 telephone numbers selected by NSO customers from 2016, obtained by the organization Forbidden Stories and Amnesty International.

Several complaints have been lodged in France by people claiming to be victims of the software.

Morocco was notably accused of having used the software, which Rabat denied, speaking of “false and unfounded allegations” and initiating several procedures courts in France, Spain and Germany.

The NSO group for its part declared: “We maintain our previous statements concerning the representatives of the French government. They are not and have never been the targets of the NSO group’s technology used by its customers (…). We point out that NSO does not use its technology “.

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