WARSAW (Reuters) – Polish prosecutors said on Wednesday they would not investigate an allegation that the phone of a prominent government critic was hacked, as opposition figures were targeted illegal surveillance.
Reports that sophisticated spyware developed by the Israel-based NSO group was used against government opponents, including prosecutor Ewa Wrzosek, have led to accusations that special services are undermining democratic standards.
Wrzosek, a member of the Lex Super Omnia group that campaigns against what he says is the politicization of the prosecution under the Law and Justice (PiS) party, received a notification from Apple in November that his phone could have been hacked. using NSO. The Group’s Pegasus software.
This month, The The Bharat Express News reported that the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab project revealed that Wrzosek was one of three critics of the Polish government whose phones had been hacked.
“The only indication that a cyberattack could have occurred (…) was a message from the manufacturer of the phone,” said Aleksandra Skrzyniarz, spokesperson for the Warsaw District Prosecutor’s Office, in a statement explaining the refusal of the phone. ‘investigate the case.
“However, the message did not categorically state that a cyber attack had taken place, but contained a warning that the alert could be false,” Skrzyniarz said, adding that Wrzosek had refused to hand over the phone for examination.
Wrzosek told private broadcaster TVN24 she would appeal the decision.
“I do not see the slightest prerequisite or legal justification for the decision to refuse to initiate this procedure,” she said.
Polish security services do not comment on the methods they use or whether they have investigated specific people. However, spokesman Stanislaw Zaryn denied any suggestion that the Polish services were engaged in domestic political battles.
Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki rejected suggestions that spyware was used by Polish services against opposition figures as “fake news”.
NSO says it manufactures technology for use by governments and law enforcement agencies to fight crime and terrorism, and has safeguards to prevent abuse.
Digital rights researchers say Pegasus has been used to spy on civil society in several countries.
(Reporting by Alan Charlish and Anna Koper; Editing by Giles Elgood)