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CRIME

Australian woman charged in France over 2016 disappearance of Frenchman

French police have charged an Australian woman over the 2016 disappearance of a Frenchman she allegedly shared a hotel room with in Andorra, an informed source said Monday. The woman had been arrested at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport last month.

Australian woman charged in France over 2016 disappearance of Frenchman
Andorra. AFP

The woman has been charged with the “kidnapping, arbitrary detention and abduction” of the man, named as 31-year-old Florent G, her defence counsel Simon Despierre told AFP.

Relatives of the missing man from the western city of Nantes had requested the case be kept out of the public eye after the woman was arrested on November 28 at Paris's Charles de Gaulle airport, the source said.

Despierre said the 59-year-old was formally placed in detention two days later after questioning.

The circumstances of the case remain unclear.

Florent G was last seen at a hotel in Andorra and his family reported him missing after he did not return to France from the small landlocked country in the Pyrenees mountains, the source said.

He was said to be a proponent of “woofing”, a practice that allows tourists to work on a farm in exchange for room and board.

There is no indication of how he came into contact with the Australian woman, reportedly a doctoral student in architecture who stayed with him in the hotel, according to the Nantes daily Presse Ocean.

“Later, she would say she saw the door of their room open and traces of blood inside and that she did not know what could have happened to her companion,” Presse Ocean reported.

“She told the examining magistrate she did not harm Florent G,” Presse Ocean added.

The Nantes public prosecutor declined to comment on the ongoing case.

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CRIME

Hackers post French hospital patient data online

Hackers who crippled a French hospital and stole a trove of data last month have released personal records of patients online, officials have confirmed.

Hackers post French hospital patient data online

The cyberattackers demanded a multimillion dollar ransom from the Corbeil-Essonnes hospital near Paris a month ago, but the institution refused to pay.

The hospital said the hackers had now dumped medical scans and lab analyses along with the social security numbers of patients.

“I condemn in the strongest possible terms the unspeakable disclosure of hacked data,” health minister François Braun tweeted on Sunday.

Hospitals around the world have been facing increasing attacks from ransomware groups, particularly since the pandemic stretched resources to breaking point.

The problem has been acute in France, where officials estimated early last year that healthcare institutions were facing on average an attack every week.

President Emmanuel Macron last year called the attacks during the pandemic a “crisis within a crisis” and announced an extra one billion euros for cybersecurity.

During last month’s attack, the Corbeil-Essonnes hospital shut down its emergency services and sent many patients to other institutions.

At one point, officials said the only technology still working was the telephone.

Rather than selling the trove of data, the hacker has dumped at least some of it for download on the “dark web” — a hidden part of the internet that requires special software to access.

Analysts said it seemed to be a tactic to put pressure on the hospital, even though public institutions are banned by French law from paying ransoms.

Cybersecurity researcher Damien Bancal, who revealed the leak and has seen the files, told AFP the worry is that other criminals will now launch scams with the data that has already been divulged.

In response to the leak on the weekend, the hospital severely restricted access to its systems and told patients to be extremely vigilant when receiving emails, text messages or phone calls.

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