Poland’s most powerful politician admits that the country has purchased advanced spyware from an Israeli surveillance software manufacturer National Bureau of Statistics, But denied that it was used against his political opponents.
Jaroslaw Kaczynski, leader of Poland’s ruling Conservative Party of Law and Justice, said in an interview that many countries’ secret services are using Pegasus software to combat crime and corruption.
Kaczynski said that the use of this spyware is in response to the increasing use of encryption to cover up data in transit, which defeated early surveillance technology.go through Tapping the phone, Which allows authorities to monitor communications and unencrypted real-time conversations.
“If the Polish service does not have this type of tool, it would be too bad,” Kaczynski said in an interview that will be published in the Monday edition of Sieci Weekly. The wPolityce.pl news portal published an excerpt on Friday.
Prior to the interview, the Associated Press reported exclusively that the Citizen Lab, a network monitoring organization at the University of Toronto, discovered that the devices of three Polish government critics were hacked by NSO’s Pegasus.
On Thursday, Amnesty International independently verified the findings of the Citizens Laboratory, that Senator Krzysztof Brejza had been hacked several times while participating in the opposition parliamentary election campaign in 2019.
The text messages stolen from Breza’s phone were tampered with and broadcast by Polish state-controlled television stations. As part of the slander campaign when the election was fierce, the populist ruling party continued to win by a narrow margin.
Breza now insists that this election is unfair, because the ruling party can understand his campaign strategy and plan.
The revelation of the hacking incident shocked Poland, compared it with the Watergate scandal in the United States in the 1970s, and sparked the appeal of the Parliamentary Investigation Committee.
Kaczynski said that he saw no reason to set up such a committee, and he denied that surveillance had any impact on the results of the 2019 election.
“There is nothing here, no facts, only opposition hysteria. There is no Pegasus case, no surveillance,” Kaczynski said. “No Pegasus, no service, no secretly obtained information played any role in the 2019 election campaign. They lost because they lost. They shouldn’t make such excuses today.”
The two other Polish targets identified by the Citizen Lab are Roman Giertych, a lawyer representing opposition politicians in politically sensitive cases, and Ewa Wrzosek, an independent-minded prosecutor.
When the Associated Press asked whether Poland had purchased Pegasus in December, national security spokesperson Stanislaw Zaryn neither confirmed nor denied it. However, many of Kaczynski’s allies have publicly questioned the government’s proposal to use Pegasus.
Polish Prime Minister Mateus Morawiecki called the Citizen Lab-AP investigation results “fake news” and hinted that foreign intelligence agencies could conduct espionage-critics refuted this idea, critics Said that no other government is interested in these three Polish goals.
The Deputy Minister of Defense Wojciech Skurkiewicz stated at the end of December that “The Pegasus system does not belong to the Polish army. It is not used to track or monitor anyone in our country.”
Polish media reported that Poland purchased Pegasus in 2017 and used funds from the so-called “Justice Fund”, which aims to help victims of crime and reform criminals.
According to an investigation by the broadcaster TVN and daily newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza, the software was used by the Central Anti-Corruption Bureau, a special service created under the political control of the ruling party to combat corruption in public life.
“Public funds are used for important public purposes, related to fighting crime and protecting citizens,” Kaczynski said.
Since 2015, dozens of high-profile cases of Pegasus abuse have been discovered, many of which were discovered by a global media consortium last year, indicating that the NSO Group malware is Employed by wiretapping Journalists, politicians, diplomats, lawyers and human rights activists from the Middle East to Mexico.
Polish hackers are considered particularly shocking because they occur in an EU member state that ostensibly has greater protections for civil and political freedoms.
Anna Błaszczak, director of Amnesty International’s Poland department, said in a statement on Friday that espionage against the opposition is consistent with the Polish government’s conduct under the leadership of the Law and Justice Party.
The EU has increasingly criticized Poland’s judicial intervention and other actions deemed anti-democratic.
“These findings are shocking, but not surprising. They raise serious concerns not only for politicians, but also for the entire Polish civil society, especially considering the government’s record of continuing to subvert human rights and the rule of law,” Blasch Zach said.