Catalonia’s regional chief accused the Spanish authorities of spying on its residents after a rights group stated his cellphone and dozens extra belonging to Catalan pro-independence figures had been contaminated with spy ware utilized by sovereign states.
The Citizen Lab digital rights group discovered greater than 60 individuals linked to the Catalan separatist motion, together with a number of members of the European Parliament, different politicians, attorneys and activists, had been focused with “Pegasus” spy ware made by Israel’s NSO Group.
Almost the entire incidents occurred between 2017 and 2020, when efforts to carve out an impartial state in northeastern Spain led to the nation’s deepest political disaster in many years.
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NSO stated the details about the allegations was false.
“It’s an unjustifiable disgrace,” Catalan chief Pere Aragones tweeted on Monday. “An extremely serious attack on fundamental rights and democracy.”
Describing using surveillance software program as crossing a “red line”, he demanded explanations from the Spanish authorities.
The authorities declined to remark when contacted by Reuters.
NSO, which markets the software program as a law-enforcement software, stated Citizen Lab and Amnesty International, which was not concerned on this investigation however has revealed earlier research about Pegasus, had produced inaccurate and unsubstantiated stories to focus on the corporate.
“Information raised regarding these allegations are, yet again, false and could not be related to NSO products for technological and contractual reasons,” a spokesperson stated by way of e-mail with out explaining why this was the case.
Toronto-based Citizen Lab stated virtually the entire infections came about between 2017 and 2020 within the wake of the independence bid by Catalonia that plunged Spain into its worst political disaster in years.
It stated stated it couldn’t conclusively attribute the spying operations to a selected entity however stated: “Strong circumstantial evidence suggests a nexus with Spanish authorities.”
Citizen Lab started its investigation in 2020 after researchers working with Facebook’s on the spot message service WhatsApp warned a number of Catalan lawmakers, together with parliament speaker Roger Torrent, that their telephones had been damaged into.
At that point, Interior Minister Fernando Marlaska denied the Spanish authorities or its intelligence providers had any involvement.
Newspaper El Pais subsequently reported that Spain’s CNI intelligence company did have entry to the software program.
Amnesty urged Spain to analyze using Pegasus and disclose whether or not it was a consumer of NSO.
The European Union’s knowledge safety watchdog has referred to as for a ban on Pegasus over allegations it has been abused by consumer governments to spy on rights activists, journalists and politicians.
Last week Reuters reported that a number of senior EU officers had been focused by the software program. NSO stated in an announcement that it was not liable for the hacking makes an attempt, saying the concentrating on described by Reuters “could not have happened with NSO’s tools”.