The mobile phones of at least five French ministers and a diplomatic adviser to President Emmanuel Macron were infected by Israeli-made Pegasus spyware, sources told AFP on Friday, confirming a report from investigative website Mediapart.
The software was detected by French security services while inspecting the phones, and the intrusions are believed to have taken place in 2019 and 2020, according to the Mediapart report on Friday.
Pegasus, made by the Israeli company NSO Group, can turn on a phone’s camera or microphone and collect its data, and was at the center of a storm in July after a list of some 50,000 possible targets was leaked to the media. surveillance around the world.
The media consortium behind the revelations, including The Washington Post, The Guardian, and France’s Le Monde, reported at the time that one of Macron’s phone numbers and those of many French cabinet ministers were on the leaked list of possible prospects. objectives.
French authorities declined to comment on Friday.
The five ministers selected are the Minister of Education, Jean-Michel Blanquer, the Minister of Territorial Cohesion Jacqueline Gourault, the Minister of Agriculture, Julien Denormandie, the Minister of Housing, Emmanuelle Wargon, and the Minister of Overseas Territories, Sebastien Lecornu, Mediapart said.
Two French sources with knowledge of the investigation confirmed the veracity of the report, while asking not to be identified by name because they were not authorized to speak to the media.
“My phone is one of those reviewed by the national IT systems security agency, but I have not heard anything about the investigation yet, so I cannot comment at this time,” Wargon told the L’Opinion website. on Friday.
One of her aides told AFP that “the minister does not have access to any state secrets, so we do not see the point in spying on her.”
In July, Le Monde reported that evidence of a hacking attempt was found on the phone of former Environment Minister and close Macron ally Francois de Rugy, and the attempt allegedly originated in Morocco.
Morocco’s intelligence services were also accused of being behind the hacking of journalists in France, but the kingdom’s government has denied the allegations and has initiated legal action for defamation.