Three weeks after the first revelations in Poland, shortly before Christmas, on the government’s use of the Pegasus spyware, the scandal continues to embarrass the national conservative majority of the PiS (Law and Justice), in power in Warsaw. According to information from the Canadian research center Citizen Lab, confirmed by Amnesty International, the phones of two prominent representatives of the Democratic opposition, as well as that of a magistrate, were hacked using software from the Israeli company NSO Group, a particularly sophisticated smartphone infiltration tool.
In an interview with the pro-government weekly wSieci, Monday, January 10, the Deputy Prime Minister in charge of security issues and strongman of the majority, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, admitted that the Polish intelligence services were indeed in possession of the software, however denying its use for political purposes. But in a country where the government is singled out for its recurring violations of the principles of the rule of law, the case seems particularly serious: Poland would be the second State of the European Union, after Hungary, to use the controversial software, and the only one, where it would have been used against representatives of the political opposition, what is more during an election period.
In question, the particularly sensitive profile of two of the people targeted. Senator Krzysztof Brejza, a member of the Civic Platform, the first opposition party, had his phone hacked thirty-three times between April and October 2019, when he was the campaign leader of his party for the European and legislative elections. The intrusions started a month before the European election and stopped a few days after the general elections. And even if the person concerned was then the subject of suspicion – since abandoned – in a minor case of false invoices, this argument, put forward by Mr. Kaczynski to justify these tappings, did not convince many people.
« Polish Watergate »
Especially since some text messages stolen from Mr. Brejza’s phone found themselves at the heart of a smear campaign orchestrated by public television, a few weeks before the legislative election. « Everything seems to indicate that it was an operation carried out in concert between the intelligence services, using the Pegasus software, and the chief propagandists of power. These are particularly dirty methods, which have nothing to do with the standards of a democratic state, entrust to World Mr Brejza. Beyond the attacks on my person, it is above all the citizens who have been deprived of a process of free and undistorted elections. In the opinion of several experts in electoral law, including the former president of the Supreme Court, Adam Strzembosz, if this scandal had emerged at the time, the Polish Supreme Court should have invalidated the result of the elections.
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