Council of Europe compares Spain to Hungary and Poland regarding use of Pegasus spyware

Organization questions compatibility of software with respect of rights

The Council of Europe headquarters
The Council of Europe headquarters / Blanca Blay

ACN | @agenciaacn | Brussels

September 8, 2023 06:14 PM

September 8, 2023 06:14 PM

A Council of Europe report places Spain on the same level as countries like Hungary, Poland, or Azerbaijan when it comes to the use of espionage programs like Pegasus.

In the first draft of the document approved this Friday, the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly defined Pegasus as a "highly intrusive tool" and said it has "serious doubts" that this software and similar ones are compatible with the respect of human rights. 

A 2022 investigation from The New Yorker magazine and Citizen Lab research group revealed that the phones of at least 65 Catalan pro-independence politicians and civil society members were infected with the spyware created by Israeli business NSO in what has come to be known as the Catalangate affair. 

So far, Spanish authorities have admitted to spying on 18 people with a court order. Catalan president Pere Aragonès, former president and Junts MEP Carles Puigdemont, and various members of civil society entities like the Catalan National Assembly or Òmnium Cultural are among those on the list of people who were spied on

As a result of the published information, the Parliamentary Assembly asked Spain to inform the Council of Europe and its Venice Commission constitutional law advisory body about the use of Pegasus and other espionage software. 

The Assembly also asked Spain to conduct an "independent and effective" investigation into the espionage cases and to offer the victims reparations.

The only pro-independence member of the Parliamentary Assembly, Laura Castel, said the draft of the report is "very important as it increases pressure on Spain to create an effective investigation into Catalangate."