The leader of the ruling party in Poland admits that his country purchased the software but denied that it was used to spy on members of the opposition. He did not comment on the report that the software was purchased after the Polish prime minister met with Netanyahu in 2017

The leader of the ruling party in Poland, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, admits that his country has acquired the advanced spyware software Pegasus from the Israeli company NSO. However, he denies that the software was used to spy on his political rivals, as reported earlier this week.

Kaczynski said in an interview expected to be published Monday in the weekly “Sieci” that “secret services around the world are using the software in many countries to fight crime and corruption.” “The software has led to technological advances in relation to monitoring systems that existed before and did not allow encrypted messages to be monitored,” he said. He added that “it would be bad if the Polish services did not have such a means”.

Last month, the AP news agency reported that the Citizen Lab group from the University of Toronto found that three members of the opposition in Poland were targeted by Pegasus software. Amnesty International reported yesterday (Thursday) that it had verified the findings of Citizen Lab, and found that Senator Christophe Brege’s phone had been hacked several times in 2019 during the opposition election campaign. Text messages taken from Briza’s phone were broadcast on a state-controlled television channel as part of the populist ruling party’s smear campaign.

Breza now claims the election was unfair because the ruling party had access to his party’s campaign. Following the revelations, calls were made in Poland to open a parliamentary inquiry into the reports.

Kaczynski says he sees no reason to set up a commission of inquiry, and denies there was any follow-up during the 2019 election. “There is nothing here, no fact, other than the hysteria of the opposition. There was no use of Pegasus, no surveillance,” Kaczynski said. “No Pegasus, no services, no information secretly obtained played any role in the 2019 election campaign. They lost because they lost. They should not look for excuses.”

Last Monday, the Polish newspaper Gazeta Wiborce reported that a government agency in Poland had purchased the Pegasus spyware, made by the Israeli company NSO, following a meeting between former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Polish counterpart. According to the report, the system was purchased illegally.
In July 2017, Netanyahu met in Hungary with its Prime Minister, Viktor Orban, and with the then Prime Minister of Poland, Biata Szydlow. According to the report in the newspaper, which is identified as liberal and takes a critical line towards the government, at this meeting the decision was made to sell Pegasus to Poland and Hungary. The latter was accused of using software to track political rivals and journalists.

Poland reportedly acquired Pegasus for the Central Anti-Corruption Agency (CBA). The law in the country stipulates that the agency’s activities will be funded directly from the state budget, except that the spyware, according to the report, was purchased from the budget of the Polish Ministry of Justice. According to a document obtained by the newspaper, the Ministry of Finance in Poland found that this was a “violation of the financial rules”, although not severe enough to justify measures against those involved.

The Polish opposition is pressuring the government to investigate allegations of use of NSO software against political opponents. The Citizen Lab, which helped uncover the use of Pegasus against a senior member of the Polish opposition, told Bloomberg at the time that the government in Warsaw was avoiding an alarming investigation. The government denies the allegations that it used the spyware, and Prime Minister Mataus Morveyecki called the publications on the “Pike News” issue and raised the possibility that a foreign intelligence agency was responsible for the actions. John Scott-Rayilton, a senior researcher at Citizen Lab, told Bloomberg that such a suspicion requires certain actions, and that “those actions do not appear to be happening.”

 

By Editor

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