European Union lawmakers investigating the use of Pegasus spyware against opposition politicians and journalists on May 9 raised deep concerns about abuses in Hungary and Poland and lamented a lack of cooperation in their inquiry. .
Spyware developed by the Israeli cyber-intelligence company NSO has been used around the world to hack into the phones and computers of political figures, human rights activists, journalists and even Catholic clergy. It is supposed to be given only by government agencies.
Cybersleuths have found traces of Pegasus or other spyware in Poland, Hungary, Spain and Greece. But after a year of investigation, members of the European Parliament said they were unable to create a smoking gun.
“Do we have evidence? No, because none of the authorities cooperated,” said Dutch Liberal lawmaker Sophie In’t Veld, who helped lead the investigation.
In’t Veld said lawmakers suspected, but could not prove, that Greece exported Predator spyware to Cyprus, which then delivered it to Sudan, where more than 600 people have been killed since April 15. in the battle between the military, led by Gen. Abdel -Fattah Burhan, and a rival paramilitary group.
Dutch conservative lawmaker Jeroen Lenaers said the right-wing Polish government’s refusal to cooperate was “part of a broader strategy to silence any kind of opposition in Poland and it is very worrying.”
In their final report, the lawmakers said Poland’s use of Pegasus was part of “a system of surveillance of the opposition and government critics — designed to keep the ruling majority and the government in power. “
They argue that the use of spyware in Hungary is “part of a calculated and strategic campaign to destroy media freedom and freedom of expression by the government.” Hungary’s justice minister has refused repeated requests for talks.
Lawmakers said they had sent questions to authorities in 27 EU member states but few had returned with “relevant information.” Others, including the Netherlands, did not respond at all. Others refused to provide information on what they said was national security grounds.
“Spyware abuse has nothing to do with national security,” In’t Veld said. He also expressed concern about where victims would turn for help if authorities were accused of surveillance. “In any case justice has not been done so far. Not one,” he said.
NSO is subject to export restrictions by the US federal government, which accuses the company of conducting “transnational repression.” Major technology companies, including Apple and Meta, the owner of WhatsApp, have also taken NSO to court.
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