Catalan politicians spied on: Spain opens investigation into Pegasus maker

Catalan politicians spied on: Spain opens investigation into Pegasus maker

The Israeli-made Pegasus spyware website.

Spanish justice announced on Thursday that it had opened an investigation into the Israeli company NSO, which manufactures and markets the Pegasus software, which was allegedly used to spy on Catalan separatist leaders between 2017 and 2020.

Seizure of a complaint lodged by the lawyer of several separatist leaders, himself a victim of espionage, according to a report published in mid-April, an investigating judge of the court of Barcelona has decided to open a judicial investigation against in particular NSO Group Technologies Limited.

This investigation aims to verify whether crimes were committed in the creation and supply of the Pegasus program to third parties, as well as actions or omissions that made it possible to willfully and knowingly contribute to the espionage of Catalan officials, according to a document judicial consulted by AFP.

According to the lawyer at the origin of the complaint, Me Andreu Van den Eynde, it is about the first investigation opened in Spain against NSO since the spy scandal targeting Catalan separatists broke.

In a report published in mid-April, the Canadian organization Citizen Lab announced that it had identified 60 people from the Catalan separatist movement whose cell phones were allegedly hacked between 2017 and 2020 using Pegasus software.

< p class="e-p">The then director of the Spanish intelligence services, Paz Esteban, later admitted before a parliamentary committee that 18 separatists had been wiretapped after authorization from the courts.

< p class="e-p">Weakened by the scandal, the executive sacked Ms Esteban on May 10. Prime Minister, socialist Pedro Sánchez, also announced a reform of the intelligence services to strengthen judicial control over wiretapping.

This spy scandal took an unexpected turn when the government announced in early May that the cell phones of Pedro Sánchez and his defense minister, Margarita Robles, had also been spied on last year using Pegasus .

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez's cell phone was infected with Pegasus spyware, developed by the Israeli group NSO. (Archives)

The government said it was an external attack, but said it did not know who was behind it. ;origin. For their part, several Spanish media have mentioned a possible involvement of Morocco.

The NSO group is also the target of a judicial investigation in France relating to the espionage of French journalists, whose phones were allegedly infiltrated by Pegasus software on behalf of the Moroccan state, according to a consortium of 17 international media. Rabat has categorically denied these accusations.

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