25th Sep 2023

Poland snubs EU Parliament's spyware probe

  • Polish authorities refuse to cooperate with the Pegasus inquiry committee (Photo: European Parliament)
Listen to article

Polish government authorities snubbed a European Parliament probe into spyware Pegasus by refusing to show up to an inquiry on Thursday (15 September).

"The flat out refusal of the Polish authorities to cooperate with our committee is extremely regretful," said Jeroen Lenaers, a Dutch centre-right MEP heading the committee probe.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Poland's interior minister Mariusz Kamiński from the ruling Law and Justice party had been invited — but then informed the committee that he would not be meeting them in Poland either, said Lenaers.

Lenaers also said their invitation to Poland's justice minister Zbigniew Ziobro was left unanswered.

The discussion on Thursday is part of a wider debate on the use of the Israeli spyware Pegasus, which had been used to target opposition politicians in Poland, as well as lawyers and prosecutors.

Among them, and present at Thursday's hearing, was Ewa Wrzosek, a prosecutor fighting against government attempts to undermine its judicial independence.

Wrzosek was last November alerted by Apple that her iPhone had been hacked, a fact later confirmed by the University of Toronto-based researchers at Citizen Lab.

Kamiński's no-show at Thursday's hearing triggered a sharp rebuke from Wrzosek — who noted that the minister had been convicted in 2015 for the abuse of power.

"For him to have access to such tools, to have such powers, including access to the private details of the surveilled person," she said.

Shortly after Kamiński was given a pardon, he was appointed by prime minister at the time Beata Szydło — to coordinate Poland's secret services.

Pegasus was purchased reportedly under the aegis of Szydło, who is currently an MEP and vice-chair of the European Conservatives and Reformists Group.

Polish authorities have denied using it against opposition politicians. and prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki had earlier described the hack revelation as "fake news".

But the evidence gathered by Citizen Lab and Amnesty International suggests otherwise, posing additional rule-of-law questions on a government already at loggerheads with the European Commission for undermining the independence of the judiciary.

Amnesty International says they have confirmed six cases of unlawful surveillance in Poland.

The NGO's country director, Anna Błaszczak-Banasia, said it was safe to assume that Polish authorities were deliberating targeting opposition politicians with Pegasus.

Other known victims include opposition Civic Platform senator Krzysztof Brejza, who was targeted in 2019 during the Polish parliamentary election campaign.

At the time, Brejza was himself head of the Civic Coalition election campaign.

Traces of the Israeli software were also found on Magdalena Łośko's phone, when she was his assistant.

Attempts had also been made to infect the phones of former deputy treasury ministers Pawel Tamborski and Rafal Baniak.

Some 61 attacks had also been registered against Andrzej Długosz, a lobbyist and PR expert.

Tusk's lawyer

Other high profile cases include Roman Giertych, the lawyer of former EU council president Donald Tusk.

Giertych, who was also present at Thursday's hearing, likened the surveillance abuse to authoritarian regimes.

"There was messages filtered out of my conversations with Donald Tusk," he said. "Transcribing such conversations between client and his lawyer is a very serious crime in any country," he added.

Giertych said such practices by the state can be compared to "totalitarian countries such as Turkey or Russia."

But he also noted that Poland still has a free media and that next year's parliamentary election could see the ruling party wiped out.

"I'm sure that in a year the Polish government will be ready to cooperate and provide all the data that is of interest to you," he said, also in a snub to Thursday's ministerial no shows.

EU Commission won't probe 'Pegasus' spyware abuse

The European Commission says people should file their complaints with national authorities in countries whose governments are suspected of using an Israeli-made Pegasus spyware against them.

EU parliament spyware inquiry eyes Italian firms

An investigation by Lighthouse Reports and media partners including EUobserver found Italian firms Tykelab and RCS Lab were using surreptitious phone network attacks and sophisticated spyware against targets. The findings have spiked the interest of MEPs already probing spyware abuse.

Greek PM embroiled in spyware scandal

Greece has become embroiled in a wiretapping scandal that led to the resignation of its intelligence chief as well as the Greek prime minister's top aide.


NSO surveillance rival operating in EU

As European Parliament hearings into hacking scandals resume this week, an investigation led by Lighthouse Reports with EUobserver, Der Spiegel, Domani and Irpimedia reveals the unreported scale of operations at a shady European surveillance outfit.


Orbán's 'revenge law' is an Orwellian crackdown on education

On Tuesday, the Hungarian parliament passed a troubling piece of legislation known by its critics as the 'revenge law', which aims to punish and intimidate teachers who dare to defy Viktor Orbán's regime. This law is a brutally oppressive tool.

Latest News

  1. Europe's energy strategy: A tale of competing priorities
  2. Why Greek state workers are protesting new labour law
  3. Gloves off, as Polish ruling party fights for power
  4. Here's the headline of every op-ed imploring something to stop
  5. Report: Tax richest 0.5%, raise €213bn for EU coffers
  6. EU aid for Africa risks violating spending rules, Oxfam says
  7. Activists push €40bn fossil subsidies into Dutch-election spotlight
  8. Europe must Trump-proof its Ukraine arms supplies

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Medical Devices Regulators Forum (IMDRF)Join regulators, industry & healthcare experts at the 24th IMDRF session, September 25-26, Berlin. Register by 20 Sept to join in person or online.
  2. UNOPSUNOPS begins works under EU-funded project to repair schools in Ukraine
  3. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsGeorgia effectively prevents sanctions evasion against Russia – confirm EU, UK, USA
  4. International Medical Devices Regulators Forum (IMDRF)Join regulators & industry experts at the 24th IMDRF session- Berlin September 25-26. Register early for discounted hotel rates
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersGlobal interest in the new Nordic Nutrition Recommendations – here are the speakers for the launch
  6. Nordic Council of Ministers20 June: Launch of the new Nordic Nutrition Recommendations

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Sustainable Finance CentreJoin CEE Sustainable Finance Summit, 15 – 19 May 2023, high-level event for finance & business
  2. ICLEISeven actionable measures to make food procurement in Europe more sustainable
  3. World BankWorld Bank Report Highlights Role of Human Development for a Successful Green Transition in Europe
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic summit to step up the fight against food loss and waste
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersThink-tank: Strengthen co-operation around tech giants’ influence in the Nordics
  6. EFBWWEFBWW calls for the EC to stop exploitation in subcontracting chains

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us