Five French ministers’ phones show traces of Pegasus spyware

The secrecy on the results of the analyzes carried out by the State in the wake of the revelations of the “Project Pegasus” is gradually lifting. Seventeen partner editorial offices, including The world, revealed this summer that part of the French government had been targeted, in 2019, by the Pegasus spyware.

According to Mediapart, who is provided a “confidential document” dating from August recounting the result of the technical inspection carried out at the end of July on the phones of members of the government, the phones of five ministers include “Suspect markers” – without it being possible to say, at this stage, whether they were really infected.

Read also Edouard Philippe, ministers and elected officials from all sides on the Moroccan intelligence list

These are those of:

  • Jean-Michel Blanquer, Minister of National Education;
  • Jacqueline Gourault, Minister of Territorial Cohesion;
  • Sébastien Lecornu, Minister of Overseas Territories;
  • Emmanuelle Wargon, Minister of Housing;
  • Julien Denormandie, Minister of Agriculture.

The traces go back mainly to 2019, but also, in some cases, to 2020, explains Mediapart.

The exact nature of these “markers” is not specified. Within the framework of the “Project Pegasus”, two types of traces of Pegasus could be discovered: signs showing a successful infection of the telephone and traces of spotting carried out before the infection itself.

It is this second type of traces that was found on the phone of François de Rugy, then Minister of Ecology. The report cited by Mediapart does not seem to specify whether the phones of the five ministers concealed traces of infection or simple prior identification. It does, however, bring to six the number of ministers whose phones show traces of Pegasus and who had been, as we revealed this summer, selected in early summer 2019 as potential spyware targets. In all, fifteen members of the government, including Edouard Philippe, then Prime Minister, appeared on this list.

Mediapart also specifies that a member of the diplomatic cell of the Elysee, whose name is not disclosed, is among the people whose phones show traces of Pegasus. Franck Paris, Emmanuel Macron’s Africa adviser, was one of the potential targets.

The Elysee does not comment

Asked by Mediapart, the Elysée did not wish to do “Comments on inspections in progress and which require long and complex work”.

The judicial investigation, opened by the Paris prosecutor’s office following the revelations, had already made it possible to confirm the infection of several phones, in particular those of two journalists from Mediapart.

The elements collected in the course of our investigation demonstrated the involvement of Morocco, a client of this sophisticated spyware. Identical technical marks, specific to each Pegasus client, have for example been found among imprisoned opponents of the Moroccan regime, sympathizers of the Western Sahara cause and on François de Rugy’s phone. Morocco has always denied any responsibility in this affair.

Read also: These technical elements which attest to the involvement of Morocco

Remains a major unknown at this point: has Emmanuel Macron’s phone been compromised? The number of the head of state is indeed among the list of more than 50,000 designated target numbers of Pegasus. Being on this list means that a Pegasus customer has taken an interest in this number and considered possible infection.

According to the analyzes carried out by the media of the “Project Pegasus” and our partner Amnesty International, and which largely confirms the document revealed by Mediapart, a significant portion of the phones in this list do show traces of infection or, at the very least, spotting.

Since our revelations on the head of state’s cell phone, the Elysee has refused to answer any questions on the subject.

Read also “Project Pegasus”: these questions left unanswered by the Elysee

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