Pegasus spyware used to spy on a Polish mayor

The phone of an opposition-linked Polish mayor was infected with the powerful Pegasus spyware, local media reported.

Reuters reported that the phone of an opposition-linked Polish mayor was infected with the Pegasus spyware. According to rumors, the Polish special services are using surveillance software to spy on government opponents.

The news of the hack was reported by the Gazeta Wyborcza daily, and unfortunately, it isn’t the first time that the Pegasus spyware was used in the country.

In 2021, the University of Toronto-based Citizen Lab Internet reported that a Polish opposition duo was hacked with NSO spyware. The PiS government admitted having used the spyware, but pointed out the Pegasus was never used against political opponents.

According to the Gazeta Wyborcza daily, the spyware was used to spy on the phone of Jacek Karnowski, mayor of the city of Sopot, in 2018-2019. At the time, the Polish Major was working on the opposition’s campaign for elections to the Senate.

“We will not allow the PiS machine to further destroy democracy, lead Poland to the East and sovietise our country,” Karnowski told Reuters. “The politicians who inspired and commissioned these activities belong in prison.”

In June 2022, the controversial Israeli surveillance vendor NSO Group told the European Union lawmakers that its Pegasus spyware was used by at least five countries in the region.

At the time, NSO Group’s General Counsel Chaim Gelfand admitted that the company had “made mistakes,” but that after the abuses of its software made the headlines it has canceled several contracts.

In April 2022, the Parliament set up a new inquiry committee investigating the use of Pegasus spyware and equivalent surveillance software used to spy on phones belonging to politicians, diplomats, and civil society members. The spyware was used to target several European leaders, including Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, and Spanish political groups, Hungary, and Poland.

If you want to read more info on the Pegasus spyware give a look at a report investigating Pegasus spyware’s impacts on human rights that has been launched by the Council of Europe on the occasion of the summer session of the Parliamentary Assembly.

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Pierluigi Paganini

(SecurityAffairs – hacking, NSO)
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