European Parliament launches investigation into Pegasus spyware as hacks of MEPs come to light

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The European Parliament’s committee investigating the activities of Pegasus spyware began its work on Tuesday, examining numerous cases, including accusations of espionage against Hungary, Poland and Greece.

In Spain, at least 65 people, including three Catalan presidents and four MEPs, were allegedly spied on between 2017 and 2020.

A new investigation by Citizen Lab, a leading Canadian research group, indicates that Spanish authorities are most likely behind the spyware attack, which is believed to cost hundreds of millions of euros.

“While we do not currently attribute this operation to specific government entities, circumstantial evidence suggests a close connection to the Spanish government, including the nature of the victims and targets, the timing and whether Spain was a government client of NSO Group,” Citizen Lab said in its report.

Dozens of Catalan pro-independence politicians and activists have been targeted by the Pegasus spyware, according to the investigation.

Former president and now Brussels lawmaker Carles Puigdemont – who is calling for an EU-level investigation – says his wife, lawyer and many of his aides were also targets of Pegasus attacks.

“As MEPs, and even one of our assistants, were spied on with Pegasus while working in this house, putting the communications of the whole at risk [European] Parliament,” Puigdemont said on Tuesday.

“The Spanish state has organized a criminal plot with money from obscure and non-democratically controlled sources to attack a legitimate democratic and majority political movement in institutions and on the streets,” Puigdemont added.

Madrid have denied all the charges, with Isabel Rodríguez, minister and spokesperson for the Spanish government, saying they would cooperate fully.

“The government has nothing to hide, absolutely nothing,” Rodríguez said. “Therefore, the government will cooperate as much as possible with the judicial system’s investigation of these events if the courts so require.”

The software, created by Israeli company NSO and sold exclusively to governments, penetrates devices to read texts, listen to calls and activate their microphones.

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