Polish officials found to be targeted with Israeli NSO's Pegasus
Amnesty International and a Polish news outlet have identified a hacking attempt targeting former deputy ministers and government aides.
Former Polish officials have been identified as victims of attempted phone hacking using Israel's NSO Group's powerful Pegasus spyware, according to a rights monitor on Thursday.
In partnership with Poland's Gazeta Wyborcza news agency, Amnesty International confirmed the new victims of attempted spying.
The targets were identified as former deputy treasury ministers Pawel Tamborski and Rafal Baniak, as well as several advisers in the previous liberal government, according to the news outlet. They were tied to the 2014 sale of CIECH, the state chemical company, to a private investor.
Read next: 'Israel' pushing US to remove NSO from blacklist
The current conservative government, which took power in 2015, claims the corporation was sold at a loss and blames prior administration members. The scope of the attempted hacking was unclear.
In late December, security experts linked with the University of Toronto discovered that a Polish senator, a lawyer, and a prosecutor — all critics of the ruling Law and Justice party — had been infiltrated with Pegasus malware. These were the first indications that a weapon routinely employed by repressive governments around the world had been used in a European Union country.
More names have been added to the list since then. A Senate committee has launched a probe but has no sanctions at its disposal.
Poland to launch investigation into government’s use of NSO’s Pegasus
After devices of several Polish opposition figures were hacked by the Israeli NSO Pegasus spyware, an investigation into its misuse is to be launched.
Poland’s Chief Auditor says he plans to initiate an investigation into Poland’s supervision of the secret services following reports of illegal surveillance of opposition figures with Pegasus spyware.
Marian Banas, President of the Supreme Audit Office, spoke before a Senate committee investigating the use of NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware.
NSO's Pegasus spyware hacks two opposition figures
Pegasus first hacked into the phone of a high-profile lawyer who represents top Polish opposition figures in 2019. In 2021, a prosecutor defying populist right-wing who attempted to remove the judiciary had her smartphone hacked.
In both instances, Pegasus, the NSO military-grade spyware capable of remote zero-click surveillance of smartphones, was the perpetrator, according to investigators of the University of Toronto-based Citizen Lab internet watchdog.
“Once you start aggressively targeting with Pegasus, you’ll join a fraternity of dictators and autocrats who use it against their enemies and that certainly has no place in the EU,” said senior researcher John-Scott Railton of Citizen Lab.
“Taking into account the recent events related to the security of the state and citizens, I made a decision to initiate immediate urgent monitoring of state supervision over secret services,” Banas said.
Read next: Israeli police involved in spying on Israelis using NSO's Pegasus