An official of the French Gendarmerie’s cyberspace command said on social media that a French Supreme Court ruling on the legitimacy of messages hacked by police from an encrypted phone network has been “encouraged” by defense attorneys.
In a different public intervention, Matthieu Audibert, a lawyer and officer of the command of the Gendarmerie in the cyberspace, ComCyberGend, took to Twitter to refute claims that it was a decision by the Cour de Cassation can overturn EncroChat’s lawsuits.
Audibert, the head of cooperation and cooperation at the French cybercrime unit, intervened after defense lawyers argued that the French Supreme Court decision raised doubts about the access to messages secretly harvested by police from EncroChat phones.
French cyber experts working in a joint investigation team with the Dutch were able to access 120 million messages from more than 30,000 EncroChat mobile users after the installation of servers in Roubaix, France .
The book intercept operation in 2020 led to the arrest of suspected drug dealers and organized crime in the UK, Sweden, Germany, France and other countries.
The French Supreme Court has sent a case back to trial in October after finding that the Court of Appeal did not take into account the failure of prosecutors and police to provide certificates to authenticate EncroChat data in used as evidence – a requirement of French law.
After the verdict, defense lawyers Robin Binsard and Guillaume Martine, who handled the case, advocates in other countries to appeal the use of EncroChat evidence in court proceedings because EncroChat does not guarantee legal authority.
“We ask our colleagues across Europe to follow their appeal and argue that the recommendations from EncroChat are illegal, because they are not accompanied by the truth, as agreed in today by the Court of Appeal,” the lawyers said in a statement. .
Intervention on Twitter
In a different intervention, Audibert, who is writing a thesis on the collection of digital evidence, took to Twitter to argue that the defense lawyers had misunderstood the significance of the decision.
“Several appeals have been filed by the defendants’ lawyers – this is normal, and this is the progress of the law,” Audibert wrote on Twitter. yarn. “However, the decision they received was not important.”
Audibert argued that the Supreme Court’s ruling on October 11 had legalized the technology used by the Gendarmerie to hack EncroChat servers and that the court agreed that French law allowed the investigators to also block EncroChat text messages so they can be harvested by the police.
But he disputed claims that a certificate of authentication was required under French law on the grounds that the messages had been obtained through a “hacking operation” using “trojan horse” software but not through decrypt encrypted messages.
Under these conditions, French law does not require a certificate of authentication, according to Audibert. “Should you ask for a certificate for a job that wasn’t done?” he wrote.
Audibert also said that, in accordance with the law, the Supreme Court criticized the judges at the Court of Appeal in Nancy for not ruling on the lack of authentication certificate to verify the authenticity of the EncroChat data used as evidence for the case.
But the court did not find out what the effects of the missing certificate were.
“To sum it up in one sentence, there is a missing document in the sense that you just have to ask people to submit it,” Audibert wrote.
The decision was far from the “show of legal suspicions” promoted by defense lawyers, he said, “a procedural decision about a problem that could easily be solved”.
But defense lawyers say Audibert is wrong, as court rulings have ruled that French law requires a certificate of authenticity for evidence obtained in “data capture” operations to have the evidence is valid.
Binsard wrote: “We do not share your analysis. Certification is an important cultural guarantee and failure to do so is a violation [of the criminal code].”
French police and prosecutors have refused to say how the Dutch and French worked together to hack EncroChat – citing national secrets.
The disputed case will be heard again by the Court of Appeal in Metz, in north-east France, which will decide whether strict measures have been followed to keep information about the hacking secret.
The French Supreme Court found in a second decision on October 25, 2022 that the Court of Appeal in Nancy failed to deal with the arguments that the prosecutors did not provide a certificate of authenticity for the EncroChat data used to carry out some further investigation.
The appeal was filed by 13 people who were arrested and charged in late 2020, after a legal trial for crimes related to criminal activity, weapons possession and drug crimes.
The Supreme Court found that defendants had standing to challenge the validity of EncroChat messages used as evidence against them, even though they did not admit they had the EncroChat calls.
That case is due to be heard again by the Court of Appeal in Paris, but no date has been set.