Pegasus Affair in Poland: ‘We should not get into a fake news spiral,’ warns PM Morawiecki

“There was no such reality,” PM Mateusz Morawiecki denies media reports that his government spied on opposition politicians and lawyers using the Pegasus spyware system

editor: Grzegorz Adamczyk
author: K. Kowalczyk, A. Ziemska

At a press conference this week, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki was asked whether he was aware of any decision relating to using the Pegasus Israeli spyware system to eavesdrop on, among others, the head of the Civic Platform’s (PO) election staff and senator Krzysztof Brejza during the parliamentary election in 2019.

Morawiecki assured that he had no knowledge about there being any wiretaps and surveillance. He noted that Polish special service had already released a statement on the matter.

In response to foreign media reports concerning using surveillance software on public persons associated with the opposition, Morawiecki pointed out that this could be a case of dealing with several types of special services. He stated that the appropriate Polish services would deal with the matter.

Polish Senator Krzysztof Brejza on the night of parliamentary elections on Oct. 13, 2019. (AP Photo)

He stressed that media information concerning Pegasus should be “explained” to people and there should be no “fake news to be imposed on them.”

“This is the typical activity of some media. They create a fake fact and then someone else quotes that fact and refers to the initial source. Suddenly, everyone later accepts that the fake fact was how reality looked like. In truth, however, there was no such reality,” he explained.

The prime minister noted that in the past the PM’s Chancellery under Donald Tusk had been the victim of hacker attacks in 2012. Moreover, the contents of Polish politicians’ (including Law and Justice (PiS) politicians) e-mail accounts were currently being illegally published.

He warned, that the internationals intelligence agencies of countries “not entirely friendly towards Poland” were constantly operating in the country in a ruthless manner.

“Keep this in mind also when you think about cases which have appeared today in the public domain regarding these accusations which put responsibility for the actions on Polish services,” he said.

According to Associated Press, which referred to reports published by Citizen Lab (a group operating at the University of Toronto), Polish Senator Krzysztof Brejza was surveilled using the Pegasus system, which was designed by the Israeli NSO Group.

Allegedly, Brejza’s phone was broken into 33 times between April 26, 2019 and Oct. 23, 2019. The politician had been the head of PO’s election staff prior to the 2019 parliamentary elections. Earlier, Citizen Lab reported that lawyer Roman Giertych and prosecutor Ewa Wrzosek were to also have been surveilled by Pegasus.

The spokesperson of the Polish Minister Special Services Coordinator Stanisław Żaryn underlined that intelligence agencies do not announce whether surveillance was used against particular persons. He reminded that in Poland, operational surveillance could only be used after receiving permission from the Prosecutor General and a court ruling.

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