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September 5, 2019 11:04 am

Polish Prime Minister Evades Question on Israeli Spyware Purchase

avatar by JNS.org

Illustrative image of a person using the WhatApp chat and video-sharing application. Photo: Santeri Viinamäki, Wikimedia Commons.

JNS.org – Opposition lawmakers pressured Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki on Wednesday to clarify whether their government had purchased Pegasus, a telephone surveillance technology which is said to have been used to suppress political dissent in other countries.

Pegasus is produced by the Israeli company NSO Group, and can reportedly monitor devices without the users’ knowledge or consent, including by remote activation of their smartphone cameras and microphones.

Asked whether Poland’s Anti-Corruption Bureau (CBA) bought the spyware, Morawiecki replied that “everything that needs to be, will be clarified in due time,” according to the news agency PAP.

“If someone doesn’t have anything to hide, they don’t have anything to fear,” deputy prime minister Jacek Sasin told private broadcaster TVN on Tuesday, adding that he did not know if Poland had purchased the system, but that “honest citizens” have nothing to fear.

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The CBA said it had not purchased a “system of ‘mass invigilation of Poles’” and said the accusations “have no backing in the facts.”

The charges come after an investigative report by TVN, and were bolstered by the anti-surveillance human rights group Panoptykon Foundation, who said evidence of Pegasus use by Polish secret services first appeared in 2018 in a report by internet watchdog group Citizen Lab.

According to Panoptykon representatives, Pegagus is illegal in Poland.

NSO Group said its products were developed solely to help governments and law enforcement agencies in emergency situations, such as locating terrorists or rescuing kidnapped children.

However, some human rights groups have said Pegasus is now being used by some governments in order to spy on citizens, including political dissidents and journalists.

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