NSO spyware used to hack Polish politicians, Khashoggi’s wife, others

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Spyware from Israeli tech company NSO Group has been implicated in the hack of a leading opposition politician in Poland and several others, according to University of Toronto nonprofit Citizen Lab. 

In partnership with the Associated Press, Citizen Lab revealed on Thursday that Polish Senator Krzysztof Brejza was hacked using NSO Group‘s Pegasus spyware 33 times between April 26, 2019 and October 23, 2019.

Brejza helped run the opposition campaign against the right-wing government of Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki that is currently in power. Doctored photos from Brejza’s smartphone falsely implicated him in several scandals and were shared by government-backed news outlets. Morawiecki eventually won the election by a razor-thin margin.  

Brejza, who has gained popularity as a hardliner against corruption, was horrified to learn of the hack. Access to his phone would provide anyone with information about his campaign strategy as well as the corruption whistleblowers who put their trust in him.  

Earlier this week, Citizen Lab revealed that Pegasus was also used to hack into the phones of outspoken Polish prosecutor Ewa Wrzosek and Roman Giertych, a lawyer for Brejza’s party Civic Platform.

While Morawiecki and the Polish government have denied any involvement in the hacking, EU member states have begun to speak out about the incident. 

“EU governments using spyware on political opponents and critics is unacceptable. ⁦EU Commission ⁩has to stop ducking the issue. Such practices have no place in the EU and must be banned,” Dutch EU parliamentarian Sophie in ‘t Veld tweeted on Wednesday. 

The news adds to disastrous stories about NSO Group. Citizen Lab provided the Washington Post with evidence showing the UAE used Pegasus to hack and track the phone of Hanan Elatr, wife of deceased Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Her phone was hacked months before her husband was assassinated by Saudi officials

Also: NSO Group’s spyware used against journalists and political activists worldwide

NSO Group chief executive Shalev Hulio in July denied that Elatr and Khashoggi were ever targets of Pegasus customers. Even with the new forensic information, NSO Group continued

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