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Poland launches Pegasus spyware probe

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WARSAW — The Polish parliament on Monday launched an investigation into whether the former government misused Pegasus hacking software to spy on its political opponents.

Setting up the Pegasus probe was one of the current government’s top campaign pledges ahead of October's general election.

The use of the Israeli surveillance software was brought to light through an investigation by the University of Toronto's Citizen Lab, a digital security nonprofit.

Poland was one of four countries, along with Hungary, Spain, and Greece, where it was reported that the spyware was used against the political opposition, members of civil society and journalists.

A Polish investigation commission now aims to quiz top officials from the former Law and Justice (PiS) government, including party chief Jarosław Kaczyński.

Kaczyński has previously confirmed the government's possession of the Pegasus hacking software. But he has consistently denied it was used against opposition politicians during the 2019 parliamentary election campaign.

“It’s all overblown,” Kaczyński said last week. "Everything … was in line with Polish national interest, with the needs of the security services to combat crime and espionage.”

The ruling coalition alleges PiS used Pegasus both to spy on its enemies and to keep an eye on its own members.

"The scale of [the] surveillance is shocking," Justice Minister Adam Bodnar told the Oko.press news outlet.

Other top officials facing a summons to appear before the commission include former PiS Prime Minister Beata Szydło, former Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro, and former PiS MPs Mariusz Kamiński and Maciej Wąsik — who headed the interior ministry and were recently pardoned by President Andrzej Duda following their conviction in an old corruption case.

Kamiński denounced the commission as "a political game with Poland's security," adding: "The secret service always acted in accordance with the law. I look forward to presenting the truth to the public as soon as possible."

Magdalena Sroka, the MP heading the commission, told reporters after the first meeting of the panel: “Too long we’ve been lied to about Pegasus by PiS and we’re going to get to the bottom of it now."

Krzysztof Brejza, an MEP for Tusk's Civic Coalition whose phone was allegedly hacked when he ran the party's campaign in 2019, will also appear.

“This commission will determine not just the people responsible for the use of Pegasus but also [the] people who were attacked: politicians, lawyers, journalists, and ordinary people,” Sroka said.



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