‘Shocking and depressing’: Polish minister says government used spyware against hundreds of people

The use of spyware in Poland under the previous government resulted in accusations that the authorities were abusing power and eroding democratic guardrails.


Poland’s prosecutor general said on Wednesday that Pegasus spyware was used against hundreds of people during the former Polish government.

Adam Bodnar told lawmakers that he found the scale of the surveillance to be “shocking and depressing”.

“It is sad for me that even in this room I am speaking to people who were victims of this system,” Bodnar told the Sejm, the lower house of parliament.

Bodnar, who is also the justice minister, didn’t specify who exactly was subject to surveillance by the spyware and his office said the information was confidential. 

The data showed that Pegasus was used in the cases of 578 people from 2017 to 2022 and that it was used by three separate government agencies: the Central Anticorruption Bureau, the Military Counterintelligence Service, and the Internal Security Agency.

Bodnar said that the software generated “enormous knowledge” about the “private and professional lives” of those surveilled.

He also said that the Polish state doesn’t have full control over the data that is gathered because the system operates on the basis of a license that was granted by an Israeli company.

He said ”the use of this type of method must raise serious doubts from the point of view of the protection of constitutional rights”.

Pegasus, produced by Israel’s NSO Group, has been sold to governments and is described as a tool to fight criminals and terrorists.

However, evidence has emerged of governments using it against political opponents, journalists and human rights workers.

Pegasus gives its operators complete access to a mobile device, allowing them to extract passwords, photos, messages, contacts and browsing history and activate the microphone and camera for real-time eavesdropping.

Its use in Poland under the previous government, led by the Law and Justice party, resulted in accusations that the authorities were abusing power and eroding democratic guardrails.

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2024-04-25 07:48:27

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