Polish opposition leader Donald Tusk said Tuesday that reports of political opposition by the Polish government have been the country’s biggest democratic crisis since the fall of communism.
Canadian cybersecurity experts said last week that Pegasus spyware had been used to track down prominent opposition figures. Polish media described the scandal as “Polish Watergate”.
Tusk, who leads the political party Civic Tribune, has called for a parliamentary inquiry into suspicions about the use of Pegasus against Krzysztof Breg, his party member who coordinated his 2019 election campaign.
Citizen Lab, a cybersecurity research group at the University of Toronto, has found that Pegasus has also been used against Roman Giertych, an active lawyer against the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, and Ewe Wrzosek, the attorney general and attorney general.
Morawiecki knows no objection
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, based on his suspicions, said he “didn’t know” of any objection, but added that if confirmed, it was likely the work of foreign intelligence services.
The allegations that the Polish services “use these methods of operational work for political purposes are incorrect,” said Stanislaw Zarin, a spokesman for the ministry responsible for the secret services.
He did not confirm, but did not deny, whether Poland was using Pegasus spyware. He stated that “field work” in Poland could be carried out only at the request of the Prosecutor General and after a court order.
The military Pegasus software, originally designed by the Israeli company NSO Group to track terrorists and criminals, has also been misused by many governments around the world to track activists, journalists, lawyers and politicians.
Pegasus-focused smartphones have essentially turned into portable spy devices. The Pegasus spy software can monitor unsuspecting users remotely via the phone’s microphone and camera, and it can even take screenshots or record text on the keyboard.
Polish media likened the opposition’s allegations to “Polish Watergate,” a reference to the 1972 scandal in which Republican President Richard Nixon’s staff, tasked with locating a wiretapping facility, stormed the Democratic Party headquarters in the Watergate complex in Washington, D.C. to cover up their business. Disguised as common thieves, the Watergate case escalated after it was revealed that the Nixon administration was actively obstructing the investigation, that the president had knowledge of the matter, and that he lied about the case before Congress, which eventually led to his forced resignation.
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