MEP Kolaja on Pegasus: investigation lacks transparency

On 8 September, MEPs of the PEGA investigative Committee questioned representatives of the Greek Ministry of Justice and the Digital Agenda Administration over the opposition wiretapping scandal. The committee includes Marcel Kolaja, a Pirate MEP and Quaestor of the European Parliament, who said it was unacceptable for any government to use spyware to spy on its critics. Kolaja also pointed to the lack of transparency of the whole investigation at the level of individual governments.

“No government can eavesdrop on its critics. The absolute lack of transparency in the investigation of these scandals in individual countries is also a long-standing problem,” warns Kolaja, under whose watch the European Parliament has introduced the possibility of checking MEPs’ equipment. “It was during one of these checks that the Parliament’s security experts discovered spyware on the mobile phone of Greek MEP Nikos Androulakis,” Kolaja said, adding that it was necessary to prevent further similar scandals. In Greece, as in a similar case in Spain, the People’s Party is suspected of spying.

Furthermore, Marcel Kolaja together with the PEGA delegation went on a mission to Poland on 19 – 21 September. The hearing, as the delegation, has focused on fact-finding relating to the committee’s mandate and on questions relating to the use of spyware in Poland. During the mission, it became clear that the Polish government had bought Pegasus illegally and illegally used it. The Polish government listened to its opponents in the most intimate moments of their lives.

Polish government illeagly acquired Pegasus

“We found that Pegasus was illegally acquired and then illegally used in Poland. There is no control over it. The new testimonies have shown the depth and decay of the violations of the rule of law in Poland. Moreover, MPs and senators from the Polish ruling coalition have absolutely refused to cooperate and are trying to sweep the whole thing under the carpet,” Kolaja criticized. 

Pegasus is software developed by the Israeli cyber-weapons company NSO Group. It has been purchased by some European governments in the last few years. Now, politicians from government parties face suspicions that they have used it to spy on opposition politicians and journalists. The software can be surreptitiously installed on mobile devices using security holes, in the case of Pegasus it was iOS and Android. The software is capable of reading text messages, recording calls, as well as collecting passwords, tracking location or turning on cameras. Investigations have been ongoing since 2021, but it is still possible that spyware is not only used in European countries.

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