Poland’s government is facing increasing pressure to investigate claims that it illegally used Pegasus. In what is dubbed as the ‘ Polish Watergate ‘ where governments around the world are using the Israeli spying software known as Pegasus.
The worlds most powerful spyware software is now being used to monitor for civilian and political gain against their opponents and in some cases civilians.
The software has been used in Palestine, Iran and Lebanon by Israeli intelligence services to target people with an Orwellian version of ‘ thought crime’ and now is being made available globally.
Deputy justice minister Michał Woś responded to the allegations towards the government by saying that he had “no knowledge of such a system”.
In Poland, there are allegations that Pegasus has also been used by the government to target and hack several opposition figures.
Liberal newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza published a report on Monday stating that Poland’s Central Anticorruption Bureau had bought the software back in 2017 and that it has been using it since.
The hacking allegations have been dubbed as a “Polish Watergate” — a reference to a 1972-1974 scandal that led to former US president Richard Nixon’s resignation.
Messages taken illegally from Brejza phone were leaked by state media, leading to what was seen as a smear campaign.
Taking control of your phones
The powerful malware allows its users to remotely hack into phones without the target’s knowledge, accessing the contents or even taking control of the device.
A 2021 investigation found that Pegasus, created by the Israeli company NSO Group, was used by governments across the world to spy on activists, journalists, and politicians — including in France, Spain, and Hungary.
The NSO Group insists that Pegasus’ sole purpose is for law enforcement agencies to fight terrorism and organised crime. However, it has been used in the Israeli and Palestinian conflict to target Hamas opposition leaders.
Researchers on the Pegasus spyware said that this could just be the “tip of the iceberg” in relation to the scope of the surveillance in the European country.
The government has continually rejected the accusations that it had even bought Pegasus and has refused to open an investigation into the hacking claims.
The Polish justice minister has dismissed allegations that Israeli-made Pegasus spyware was used to hack the phones of opposition figures, calling them a “storm in a tea cup.”