Today, April 19, the EU Parliament’s Committee of Inquiry into the use of Pegasus and similar spyware in Europe met for the first time in Brussels. On the agenda was the election of the chair and its three representatives. The elected members were:
This first regular session also gathered three different experts on mercenary spyware, specifically Pegasus:
The invitees were selected because they or their organizations had researched the scandal surrounding the use of Pegasus to spy on some 50,000 people and, along with the Washington Post, The Guardian, Le Monde and the Süddeutsche Zeitung, had publicized it in July 2021. Forbidden Stories and Amnesty International had obtained a phone list of potentially affected phone numbers.
Coinciding with the actual launch of the committee, Citizen Lab revealed that at least 65 people from the autonomous region of Catalonia in Spain had been targeted with spyware. In 51 of them, Citizen Lab found sufficient evidence of infection, including European parliamentarians. In addition to Pegasus, the mercenary spyware Candiru was also allegedly used. There were already indications of this in 2020. The day before, it was reported that the office of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the Foreign Office were infected with Pegasus.
„Nothing justifies the kind of total surveillance that has been and is being carried out with the Pegasus spyware. Through the European Parliament’s investigation, it must become clear which governments have violated EU law and fundamental rights by illegally spying on journalists, human rights defenders and political opponents. We also need to scrutinize the entire industry behind such spying software. Pegasus is only the tip of the iceberg. We have long been calling for a comprehensive ban on mass surveillance technologies. Parliament must now be the driving force here, both for a ban and for tough consequences for member states that have used the software illegally“, explained Cornelia Ernst.
See here the stream of today‘s hearing.