Paris (AFP)

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.

The phones were infected in 2019 and 2020 and showed markers of infection with spyware marketed by Israeli company NSO, during their review by French security services, according to Mediapart.

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, Town and Housing previously), Emmanuelle Wargon (Housing, ecological transition previously ), Sébastien Lecornu (Overseas).

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 among those that were looked at by the National Agency for the Security of Information Systems, I have not yet returned from the investigation so I can not confirm anything at this stage", commented on the site of the newspaper L'Opinion Ms. Wargon, who said she changed 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.

An investigation published from July 18 by a consortium of 17 international media revealed that the Pegasus software, designed by the Israeli company NSO Group, could have spied on the numbers of at least 180 journalists, 600 politicians and politicians. , 85 human rights activists or 65 business leaders from different countries.

This journalistic work is based on a list of 50,000 phone numbers selected by NSO clients since 2016, obtained by the organization Forbidden Stories and Amnesty International.

50,000 phone numbers possibly spied on by Pegasus Omar KAMAL AFP / Archives

Several complaints have been filed 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 legal proceedings in France, Spain and Germany.

The NSO group for its part declared: "We stand by our previous statements concerning the representatives of the French government. They are not and never have been the targets of the technology of the NSO group used by its customers (...). We recall that NSO does not exploit its technology ".

© 2021 AFP

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