A Polish and a Hungarian MEP have sent a joint letter to the European Commission to request that the so-called Pegasus affair and its substantive investigation be given special coverage in the rule of law reports on Hungary and Poland to be published in July this year, MEPs István Ujhelyi and Robert Biedroń said in a joint online video message on Saturday.
In the video posted on social media, István Ujhelyi talks, among other things, about press reports claiming that at least ten countries and around 50,000 phone numbers could be concerned by the spyware scandal. The MSZP politician also recalled that, according to reports published to date, the Polish government made the decision to purchase and use the Israeli Pegasus software following talks with the Israeli Prime Minister at the time, Benjamin Netanyahu, and Prime Minister Viktor Orbán at the 2017 V4 meeting in Budapest.
Ujhelyi recalled that the Hungarian government had denied for a long time that it was in possession at all of the software, but an investigation by the Hungarian National Authority for Data Protection and Freedom of Information (NAIH) has since revealed that the journalists in question had indeed been monitored, and, according to the report by the data protection authority, classified until 2050, lawfully.
“As regards the Hungarian involvement, it is a very revealing fact that a significant number of the Pegasus spyware surveillance cases in Hungary were authorized by the since resigned deputy minister of the Ministry of Justice, who himself is now a suspect in a criminal case, as according to the prosecution he was a key player in a major corruption network”, added the MSZP MEP.
The Socialist politician said that he and his Polish colleague would appeal to the European Commission to place special emphasis on this affair when assessing Hungary and Poland in the EU’s Rule of Law report for 2022, due to be published in July, and investigate the “dismantling of the rule of law” in these Member States.
“Polish and Hungarian: two good friends”, quoted Robert Biedroń in the video published a known saying referring to the close relationship between the two peoples. The Nowa Lewica MEP added that Poles and Hungarians are now fighting side-by-side for fairness and transparency. According to Biedroń, the Pegasus scandal is further proof that the PiS government is dismantling the rule of law in Poland.
He added that the software, developed by an Israeli company, was originally only intended to be used for counter-terrorism purposes, but in Poland it was also allegedly used to monitor family members, private individuals and members of the opposition. “This could have had a direct impact on the results of the Polish and the European Parliamentary elections, for example,” the politician said. Robert Biedroń stressed that they would not allow anyone in their country to abuse their power to secretly monitor or intimidate anyone.
As part of the press conference, the two MEPs placed leaflets depicting Hungarian PM Viktor Orbán and Jarosław Kaczyński, the leader of the conservative Polish Law and Justice Party (PiS), as eavesdroppers in the mailboxes of other Members of the European Parliament. The placement of the flyers has already prompted the deputy leader of the ECR Group, PiS MEP Ryszard Legutko, to write an open letter to the newly elected President of the European Parliament demanding an investigation on the grounds that this kind of activity is below the standards of the House and its rules.
Budapest/Brussels – 05.01.2022.