A senior official in Hungary’s governing party acknowledges for the first time that the government purchased a powerful spyware tool, which was allegedly used to target journalists, businesspeople and an opposition politician.
Lajos Kosa, chairman of parliament’s Committee on Defense and Law Enforcement, confirms to journalists following a closed committee session that Hungary’s Interior Ministry had bought the military-grade spyware Pegasus, produced by the Israel-based NSO Group.
It is the first time a Hungarian official openly acknowledges the government’s use of the malware, which infiltrates phones to collect personal and location data and can surreptitiously control the phone’s microphones and cameras.
Kosa, a vice-president of Hungary’s governing Fidesz party, insists that Hungary’s security services and Interior Ministry had acted legally in every case of surveillance, receiving permission either from courts or the Ministry of Justice.
Yesterday, the Biden administration announced it would place new export limits on Israel’s NSO Group, the maker of Pegasus, saying its tools have been used to “conduct transnational repression.”