Polish officials may face criminal charges in Pegasus spyware probe

Victims of the powerful surveillance tool will soon find out the truth

Former Polish government officials may face criminal charges following an investigation into their use of the notorious spyware Pegasus to surveil political opponents and others.

Poland officially launched a parliamentary probe into the previous government's potential misuse of the commercial surveillance software in February.

On Monday, Minister of Justice Adam Bodnar told The Guardian that Pegasus victims would soon receive notification that they had been targeted by the NSO Group's controversial snoopware.

"There is a decent chance that within a couple of months we'll have quite extensive knowledge how this equipment was used and for what purpose," Bodnar said. 

"We don't know who will be accused … if the investigation goes into the direction of accusing some persons, some ministers, or officers of the security services," he added.

The Polish Prime Minister's office did not immediately respond to The Register's request for comment.

Pegasus is powerful and intrusive spyware developed by Israel-based NSO Group that has been the subject of multiple lawsuits, export restrictions, and a European Parliament investigation.

After being installed on a victim's device, usually without the need to trick the target into a download, the snoopware gives the ability to listen in on the victim's calls, read their messages and view their photos, as well as access their files, contacts, and other apps and functions.

Despite numerous reports of abuse – and the only documented uses of Pegasus being to detain and prosecute political dissidents, lawyers, journalists, academics, and activists – NSO maintains that its data-stealing software is only sold to governments for legitimate uses such as helping law enforcement agencies fight crime and preventing terrorist attacks.

NSO, which reorganized in 2022, did not immediately respond to The Register's inquiries.

In January, an NSO spokesperson told The Register: "The technology in question is critical to law enforcement and intelligence agencies in their efforts to maintain public safety."

In late 2021, the University of Toronto's Citizen Lab, Amnesty International, and several media outlets all concluded that the surveillance software was used to spy on Polish Senator Krzysztof Brejza in 2019, when he was running the Civic Platform's election campaign, along with other targets linked to opposition parties.

Digital civil rights organization Access Now found in a January 2023 report that NSO told the European Commission it had sold its product to 22 government entities in 14 EU countries including Spain, Poland, Hungary, Belgium, and the Netherlands.

Just last month, former Polish prime minister Jarosław Kaczyński testified before a parliamentary committee that his Law and Justice party, which was in power from 2015 to 2023, did buy and deploy the spyware. But, he added, despite serving as the deputy prime minister for national security, he did not know against whom it was used.

"As far as Pegasus (spyware) goes, I was aware that it's a tool for breaking into communication devices, and that Poland needs it, and that other countries also have it," Kaczyński said

The "use of Pegasus was in accordance with the law, there were no shortcomings, and in 99 percent it was used against criminals," he insisted. ®

More about


Send us news

Other stories you might like