The billionaire chief of the newspaper Le Monde, 52, admits that he was a teenage spy who once hacked President Mitterrand's cell phone for his security chiefs
- 52-year-old Xavier Niel was caught Canal Plus 17-year-old hacking after completing his training
- The Directorate for Territorial Surveillance asked him to collect data about Renault
- He also hacked President Mitterrand's phone server in 1986
- He left his hacking role to run erotic websites on France's internet predecessor Minitel
A newspaper mogul, one of France's 25 richest people, has admitted that he was a teenage spy who hacked President Mitterrand's cell phone.
Xavier Niel, 52, is a co-owner of Le Monde newspaper and is the 21st richest person in France with an estimated net worth of 8 billion euros.
Speaking to the parliamentary channel, Niel admitted that he was hired by the Directorate for Territorial Surveillance (DST) in the mid-1980s.
The French Interior Ministry security service called Niel after he was caught hacking French channel Canal Plus at the age of 17 after he dropped out of training.
Xavier Niel, 52, (left) has admitted that when he was a teenager he worked as a spy for the French Home Office after being caught hacking Canal Plus. Pictured: Niel and his wife Delphine Arnault, 45, are attending the French Open on June 9, 2019
Niel quit his hacking job at the age of 20 to run erotic websites on Minitel, France's forerunner of the Internet. Pictured: Niel and his wife Delphine Arnault take part in the state visit by Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg, Grande-Duchesse Maria Teresa from Luxembourg on March 19, 2018
He said, "I wasn't on the secret service. I was a kind of part-time correspondent who regularly told them what we find and see in our world of hacking. & # 39;
The security agency wanted Niel to put together a group of hackers made up of other smart young people who could help them explain the world of cybersecurity at a time when the technology was still brand new.
This even included hacking President Mitterrand's cell phone in 1986.
President Mitterrand's government later got into a telephone hacking scandal called "French Watergate," in which he had the phones intercepted by hundreds of French figures.
Niel was also commissioned to hack the automaker Renault. His group learned that the company was hacked by people from Australia who downloaded large amounts of data.
For Niel, everything was just a little bit of fun.
"We did it all for ourselves as a game and shared the information," he said. & # 39; It was just fun. It was exciting to find my way around the system. They told us it was impossible. & # 39;
Niel did not say how the information gathered was used during the summer time.
Niel even hacked the cell phone of the French President Mitterrand (picture) and the car manufacturer Renault. Pictured: President Mitterrand (center) opened the Canal Tunnel next to Queen Elizabeth II in 1994
At the age of 20, Niel retired from his hacking job and started running erotic websites on the French forerunner of the Internet, Minitel.
Niel said he wanted to share details about his teenage hacking years, "as an example for kids today to show how to do stupid things and become good."
He also spent part of his fortune helping young people start their careers.
In 2013, he spent £ 41 million on a free coding school in Paris and nearly £ 250 million on Station F, the world's largest start-up laboratory that houses 1,000 start-ups.
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