Report: Israel ‘handled’ French PM’s phone during Jerusalem visit
JPost, Jul 7 2016
When French PM Valls arrived in Israel in May he came to promote bilateral ties, which were at the time tense in light of Israel’s objection to Paris’s initiative to hold a conference on the Middle East peace process. While the visit was planned before the Jun 3 date that was set for the launch of the French initiative, Valls came to promote his country’s plan. The visit included tours of “sensitive” areas and entrance to the PMO, where cell phones are prohibited during meetings. L’Express raised the possibility in a report Thursday that Israel “handled” the secure phones belonging to Valls and his French diplomatic envoy while they were in a closed-door meeting with Netanyahu. Upon leaving the meeting and collecting their phones, the French delegates were reportedly shocked to discover that their devices, including a laptop, showed signs of “obstruction.” Back in Paris, the devices were given to the National Cyber-Security Agency of France (ANSSI) where an investigation into the incident was launched, L’Express reported. In an interview with L’Express, the French agency said it does not provide comment on targets of a potential attack. The report cited a response from the PMO saying:
Israel vehemently denies the incident, and considers France to be an ally, and if necessary, we will provide our information, but we do not spy on our allies.
Report: Israel ‘tampered’ with French PM’s cellphone
Ynetnews, Jul 7 2016
Israel may have hacked into French Prime Minister Manuel Valls during the latter’s visit to Israel in May, according to a report by the French newspaper L’Express. The report claims that Valls and his advisors were requested to hand over their phones to the Israeli security services prior to their meeting with Israeli officials. After the phones were returned to the French delegation, some of the members noticed a number of unusual problems which aroused their suspicion. When Valls returned to France, all the telephones belonging to the delegation were handed over to the department of intelligence security and the National Security Agency to ascertain whether the telephones had indeed been tampered with by a third party. Despite the rumours, the French intelligence services have not as yet published their findings. For its part, the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has denied the validity of the newspaper’s claims and has dismissed any accusations of spying on Prime Minister Valls. The statement read:
This absolutely never happened. Israel sees France as a friend and passes intelligence information according to the need. It does not spy on her.
Another senior official was more forthright in his rejection of the claims:
The report is complete nonsense! It says they left their phones outside, but what it does not say that there is always an entourage that does not go into the meeting and stands by the place where they leave their phones. So someone came and tampered with the phones, then? Somebody has been eating magic mushrooms!
French media expressed surprise that of all people, Valls, who is considered to be among Israel’s closest allies, was the ‘victim’ of the Israeli security services during his state visit between May 21-24. L’Express reported:
When the delegation had their cellphones returned to them, many of them were surprised to find that they were having trouble with the signal.
The French Prime Minister’s Office however, sought to calm the concerns by assuring that checks on phones conducted by the French intelligence agencies is standard procedure upon the return of senior French officials from visits to foreign countries. In any event, the French PMO declared, “Allies never spy on other allies,” a statement grossly at odds with past leaks which have emerged on Wikileaks showing that allies spying on other allies is not uncommon.