European Leaders Blast Use of ‘Israeli’ Spyware to Target Activists, Journalists
By Staff, Agencies
European political leaders joined a chorus of consternation Monday over revelations regarding the wide reach of malware sold by Zionist firm NSO, which was used to target journalists, activists and politicians in dozens of countries.
European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said the reports of NSO Group’s activities were “completely unacceptable” if true, and opposition lawmakers in Hungary’s parliament demanded an inquiry regarding Budapest’s use of the Pegasus spyware to spy on journalists, politicians and business figures who had expressed criticism of the government.
“What we could read so far, and this has to be verified, but if it is the case, it is completely unacceptable,” von der Leyen told reporters in Prague.
Media outlets including The Washington Post, The Guardian and Le Monde drew links Sunday between the NSO Group, accused of supplying spyware to governments, and a list of tens of thousands of smartphone numbers, including those of activists, journalists, business executives and politicians around the world.
Von der Leyen slammed the attack on journalists’ phones. “Free press is one of the core values of the European Union,” she said after meeting Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis.
The investigation, drawing from a list of more than 50,000 cellphone numbers obtained by French nonprofit journalism organization Forbidden Stories and the human rights group Amnesty International, identified more than 1,000 individuals in 50 countries who were selected by NSO clients for potential surveillance.
The malware, Pegasus, infiltrates phones to vacuum up personal and location data and surreptitiously control the smartphone’s microphones and cameras. In the case of journalists, that lets hackers spy on reporters’ communications with sources.
Meanwhile, NSO has denied any wrongdoing.
The investigation by the global media consortium also suggested that military-grade spyware from NSO Group was used in Hungary to infiltrate the digital devices of a range of targets — including at least 10 lawyers, one opposition politician and at least five journalists.