May 23. 2024. 8:02

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Over 500 Polish people hacked via Pegasus under PiS rule – official sources


As many as 578 people, including opposition politicians and possibly prominent figures from the then-ruling camp were being monitored via the Pegasus spyware under the previous conservative government’s rule, Polish Justice Minister and Attorney General Adam Bodnar said on Tuesday.

The Prosecutor General’s report, submitted to parliament and published on the Senate’s website, covers the period from 2017 to 2022 when the conservative PiS (ECR) government was in power.

Previous unconfirmed information by Citizen Lab and other sources pointed to the hackings of prominent opposition figures and then-prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki and possibly President Andrzej Duda.

According to the new report, three special service public bodies used spyware against six people in 2017, 100 in 2018, 140 in 2019, 161 in 2020, 162 in 2021, and nine in 2022.

Between 2021 and 2022, information began to emerge about the use of Pegasus against then-opposition politicians and figures associated with it, but also against people who were not directly involved in politics at the time, such as Michał Kołodziejczak, the leader of the AgroUnia farmers’ movement, now the deputy minister of agriculture.

The reports sparked a major scandal over the government’s misuse of spyware designed to track the activities of potentially dangerous criminals to spy on political opponents – a case similar to the Greek one, where Predator spyware was allegedly used against opposition politicians and journalists.

Later, the media reported that politicians from the then-ruling camp had also been hacked, suggesting that the spyware may have been used by the faction linked to then Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro, who controlled the use of Pegasus to gain an advantage over his main rivals within the PiS and President Duda.

Duda was reluctant to comment on the prosecutor’s report, noting “a lot of rumours, half-truths and untruths” had emerged about the previous government’s use of Pegasus.

He expressed doubts that the spyware was being used for any purpose other than tracking crime, but he said that if it was, the guilty would have to take responsibility.

“The Pegasus-related issue was the one that PiS politicians found particularly hard to explain to political opponents and to the public,” sociologist and political analyst Jarosław Flis, a professor at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, told Euractiv.pl.

“What is surprising is to what extent the spyware was used in the internal flights within PiS,” he added.

(Aleksandra Krzysztoszek | Euractiv.pl)

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