Poland is ‘hiding’ from an investigation into malware, EU MPs warn.
Parliamentarians have warned Poland that it is failing to comply with an EU investigation into malware.
On Wednesday, EU officials pressed the Polish government to reveal how it deployed malware for political goals.
This week, a group of European Parliament members met with officials from the Polish parliament, the Sejm, and other institutions. The delegation was met with resistance from the government, which refused the committee’s offers to meet.
According to the delegation’s leader, Dutch center-right MP Jeroen Lenaers, the government is “hiding behind national security measures” in its defence of deploying the Pegasus spyware to surveil opponents ahead of the 2019 election.
According to Lenaers, there is no possible situation in which “national security necessitates the deployment of very intrusive malware such as Pegasus against opposition politicians, prosecutors, and attorneys.”
Polish is one of four countries where reports on the use of cyber-attack software against political opposition politicians, social organisation members, and journalists have sparked political crises and investigations, in a series of scandals reminiscent of the Watergate political-espionage scandal that rocked US politics in the 1970s.
Poland’s main politician, Jarosaw Kaczyski, who leads the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, has admitted the government’s possession of the Pegasus hacking software, although the government has denied using it against opposition lawmakers during the 2019 parliamentary election campaign.
The administration’s refusal to meet with Lenaers’ team was “a clear indicator of the sheer lack of priority this government takes to checks and balances, democratic scrutiny, and interaction with elected representatives,” according to Lenaers.
The European Parliament is conducting an investigation as part of its special committee into European countries’ use of Israeli-made Pegasus software and related hacking techniques.
The chamber also wants the European Commission to intervene, urging EU member countries to preserve civil rights and privacy while employing hacking tools in investigations and intelligence activities.
Sophie in ‘t Veld, a Dutch Liberal politician working on a report for the European Parliament to enforce harsher standards, said the European Commission must “give up its’ none of my business, see no bad, hear no evil ‘approach.”
European Justice Commissioner Didier Reyners defended the EU executive’s conduct to a group of Huffpost reporters on Wednesday. According to him, his services have “issued letters to four member states” seeking clarification on the claimed charges. Poland, Hungary, and Greece have answered the Commission’s concerns, and Reynders is to visit Spain next week and has stated that he would urge the government for answers as well.
“We are fairly clear that we are considering a possible piece of legislation or action at the European level,” Reynders continued, to “guarantee that there are no gaps.” “True safeguards and protections.”
“People must be confident that we are capable of carrying this through,” he continued.