Pegasus affair in Poland: Opposition speaks of “Watergate”

Status: 06.01.2022 12:37 p.m.

The scandal surrounding the Pegasus spyware software has also reached Poland: inadequate lawyers and the opposition campaign chief were overheard. But the ruling party PiS prefers to joke instead of enlightening.

By Jan Pallokat, ARD Studio Warsaw

There is talk of a “Polish Watergate” – for the opposition leader and former Prime Minister Donald Tusk, whose reign itself was overshadowed by all sorts of scandals, the Pegasus affair is already unprecedented. “This is the deepest and most serious crisis in democracy since 1989.”

Jan Pallokat
ARD studio Warsaw

Pegasus, the Israeli spyware, was misused in at least three cases in Poland, not to break into the telephones of criminals, but into those of people who stand in the way of the government, such as that of a public prosecutor who opposes the controversial judicial reform.

Bugged the head of the opposition campaign

The telephone of the former head of the opposition PO party campaign was tapped particularly intensively, reported the Citizen Lab of the University of Toronto, which investigates the illegal use of spy software around the world.

An SMS Krzystof Brejzas allegedly leaked to government-affiliated television could also have been stolen in this way, the opposition politician suspects. “The PiS people followed us every step of the way during the election campaign. They appeared wherever we went, and that’s why I think the matter should be cleared up quickly in a committee of inquiry, because everything has the freedom and honesty of the elections influenced, “he says.

Enlightenment? No interest from the PiS

The ruling party there, however, shows no interest in an explanation in parliament. And the Polish public prosecutor’s office, which reports directly to the Minister of Justice, has so far refused to initiate an investigation.

Evidence published by the government critical “Gazeta Wyborzca” suggests that the justice minister himself could have given the order to purchase the software at the time. To this end, funds were diverted from a fund for crime victims and parliamentarians were deceived, one reads.

Ominous booking process

The opposition Senator Krzystof Kwiatkowski, then head of the Court of Auditors, remembered an ominous booking process in the channel TOK FM in 2018. “That was an invoice for an IT system – at that time we didn’t use the name ‘Pegasus’, but it was one Deep surveillance system. I found it indignant because it diverted money that was supposed to benefit victims of domestic violence or traffic accidents, but was now issued by ordinance to shadow citizens. “

But so far there is little to suggest that the alleged Polish “Watergate” will do more harm to the ruling PiS party than previous scandals and affairs that have ripped off it. Which is also regularly due to the fact that there is no legal or parliamentary clarification and the topics are so quickly forgotten.

Jokes or “fake news” allegations

PiS politicians are currently reacting demonstratively with jokes about the name Pegasus or flatly declaring the reports to be “fake news”. The spokesman for the intelligence coordinator emphasized that covert operations take place exclusively on the basis of court decisions. Meanwhile, according to Poland, Israel was the second EU country to be struck off the list of countries that were allowed to use Pegasus, as was Hungary, even before the hacker attacks became known.

Pegasus in Poland – suspected spying

Jan Pallokat, ARD Warsaw, 5.1.2022 · 11:36

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