Pegasus spyware has been reportedly used against the Catalan independence movement and top government figures in Madrid
Spain on Tuesday fired Paz Esteban, director of the National Intelligence Agency (CNI), in the wake of two spyware scandals. One operation targeted key figures in the Catalan independence movement targeted by the Israeli spyware program Pegasus, while another project, accused foreigners, also targeted top Madrid government officials. “Invalid” And “External” Targeted with the same software.
The former spy chief admitted last week that his agency had spied on 18 members of the Catalan independence movement with judicial approval, including regional president Pere Aragones.
Allegations that Madrid has been spying on pro-independence Catalan politicians since 2017 were revealed through a joint investigation by the Guardian and El Pais in 2020 and further investigations published earlier this year by the Toronto-based cyber research firm Citizen Lab.
The Spanish government said one “External” The actor spied on Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, Defense Minister Margarita Robles and Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska, but did not name the culprit.
Robles, whose department oversees CNI, acknowledged that there was “Imperfection” – It allegedly took a year to discover that the phones of the country’s top three officials had been hacked – “New steps” For intelligence agencies, focusing more on Esteban’s replacement, CNI veteran Esperanza Castelliro.
“He knows the center very well, has been working there for almost 40 years and has been working for Spain,” The defense minister continued, hoping that the documents that Esteban released before the congressional committee detailing the surveillance of Catalan officials would eventually be released so that the nation could see that all judicial rules had been followed.
The handling of the Madrid scandal has been attacked from all sides. Conservatives have accused Socialist Prime Minister Esteban of being thrown under a bus to appease the Catalan independence movement. Catalan leaders insisted he had been fired “A discount for common sense,” The left-wing Podemos Party has demanded a guarantee that such incidents will not happen again. Amnesty International has even accused Madrid of using government security “As an excuse to cover up potential human rights violations.”
Pegasus, created by the Israeli company NSO Group, infamously allows the attacker to remotely snoop on the target iPhone as well as see and hear through cameras and microphones. It was found to be installed on the phones of activists and political opposition leaders around the world, although its makers insisted it was sold to the government for use only to track criminals and terrorists.
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