The former French defense minister was bugged for a long time using Israeli spy software Pegasus
Politician and businesswoman Florence Parley has only now learned that her secrets were available to a wide range of people.
French investigators say Florence Parly, former French defense minister (2017-2022), was spyed on with Israeli spyware Pegasusdeveloped by the company NSO Group. This was reported on May 16 by the online magazine mediapart.
Investigators informed Parley of their discovery a week ahead of the public announcement. The evidence does not point to a specific country behind the spying, nor does it show when the former minister’s device was infected, although it is suggested that a specific state was behind the surveillance.
At least 23 public figures in France have been targeted by Pegasus hacks at various times, including President Emmanuel Macron and former Prime Minister Edouard Philippe. Reportedly, the Moroccan government may have used the malware to gather intelligence.
Other recently identified victims of Pegasus include the following French politicians:
- Sébastien Lecornu, current French Defense Minister;
- Jean-Michel Blanquet, former Minister of Education;
- Jacqueline Gouraud, former Minister of Territorial Development and Relations with Territorial Communities;
- Julien Denormandie, former Minister of Agriculture;
- Emmanuel Vargon, former Minister of the Environment.
Pegasus software allows targeted hacking of mobile devices. Once infected, the malware provides access to personal data stored on the smartphone and turns it into an ideal surveillance device.
NSO Group, the developer of Pegasus, provides its product to any customers around the world and claims that the service is designed to combat organized crime and terrorism. However, critics argue that the malware has been repeatedly used to spy on journalists, dissidents and foreign officials.
In 2021, it was reported that the list of phone numbers marked as compromised by NSO Group customers had more than 50,000 entries. That same year, the company was sanctioned by the United States amid widespread revelations about its role in human rights abuses.