Senate approves launching a special committee to examine use of Pegasus surveillance tool
Poland's upper house of parliament, the Senate, has approved launching a special committee that will look into reported cases of Pegasus surveillance software usage. Two independent sources confirmed the tool was indeed used against opposition senator Krzysztof Brejza.
In the vote on Wednesday evening, 52 senators were in favour of the special committee, 45 were against, there were no abstentions.
According to the adopted resolution, the committee will be composed seven senators: Marcin Bosacki (Civic Coalition), Jacek Bury (Civic Coalition), Gabriela Morawska-Stanecka (Polish Socialist Party), Michał Kamiński (Polish People's Party), Magdalena Kochan (Civic Coalition), Sławomir Rybicki (Civic Coalition), Wadim Tyszkiewicz (unaffiliated). No senators from PiS will take part in the committee's work, as the ruling party did not submit their candidates.
The authors of the proposed motion explained before the vote that the committee would focus on: explaining reported cases of illegal use of Pegasus surveillance software, law violation related with these cases, assessing the scope of influence of surveillance on the election process, and drawing up draft legislation reforming operations of the special services.
Reports from the Associated Press that NSO Group's Pegasus software was used to hack the phones of government critics, including a senator who ran the election campaign for the largest opposition party in 2019, have led to accusations that special services are undermining democratic norms.
Government figures had previously declined to comment on whether or not Poland has access to Pegasus, citing laws on official secrets. In December, a deputy defence minister said Poland did not use Pegasus.
Senior figures in the Polish government indicated last week that the country had bought sophisticated spyware developed by the Israel-based NSO Group, but denied that it had been used against political opponents.
However, in extracts from an interview with conservative weekly Sieci published on Friday, the leader of Poland's ruling nationalists Law and Justice (PiS) indicated that Polish services had the software. "Pegasus is a program that is used by services combating crime and corruption in many countries...It would be bad if the Polish services did not have this type of tool," Jarosław Kaczyński was quoted as saying. He rejected opposition claims that Pegasus had been used against political opponents as "utter nonsense". Asked about Pegasus during a news conference, Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro said it would be a "disgrace" if Polish services did not have access to such surveillance technology. Krzysztof Brejza, the senator who, according to research bt the University of Toronto's Citizen Lab project and Amnesty International had his phone hacked in 2019 while running the election campaign of the largest opposition party, said: "It is Jarosław Kaczyński who is talking nonsense." "Jarosław Kaczyński and his people...took away Poles' right to free elections," he told TVN24 last week.
Źródło: TVN24 News in English, TVN24, Reuters
Źródło zdjęcia głównego: PAP/Rafał Guz