Representatives of Amnesty International spoke about the surveillance by Pegasus during Thursday’s Senate special committee. – The NSO Group claims that this technology is used primarily to prosecute particularly dangerous crimes – said Anna Błaszczak-Banasiak, director of Amnesty International Poland. However, she stressed that there were findings that “contradicted these claims”.
The Senate’s extraordinary commission to investigate cases of illegal surveillance, their impact on the election process in the Republic of Poland and the reform of the secret services was heard on Thursday by prosecutor Ewa Wrzosek, who – as reported by Canadian researchers – was a victim of this system and representatives of Amnesty International.
Head of Amnesty International Polska: Al is a partner in an international project
The director of Amnesty International Poland, Anna Błaszczak-Banasiak, talked about how the organization got involved in the surveillance case Pegasus.
– We feel obliged to constantly monitor changes in the field of threats to human and civil rights in the world. One of such spectacular changes, which we have been observing for years and which raises our particular concern, is the issue of the dynamic development of cyber surveillance tools. An example of such a tool is the Pegasus technology – she said.
She explained that “Amnesty International is a partner in an international project called Pegasus.” – This project consists of several dozen entities from around the world and the goal of our activity in this matter is to monitor, document and publicize cases of using technology such as Pegasus for illegal surveillance and publicizing the drastic effects of these facts for the sphere of protection of rights and freedom of man and citizen, she continued.
Błaszczak-Banasiak: dozens of cases of surveillance of judges, journalists and politicians
Błaszczak-Banasiak pointed out that “the creators and owners of this technology, ie the NSO Group, claim that it is a technology used primarily to prosecute particularly dangerous crimes, including terrorism, and any exceptions to this rule are rare and immediately explained.”
– The findings of the Pegasus project, in which Amnesty International has a leading role, allow these claims to be contradicted. In recent years, Amnesty International has documented dozens of cases of using this technology to spy on human rights defenders, judges, independent prosecutors, journalists and opposition politicians.
Head of the Amnesty Tech Security Laboratory on the case of Senator Brejza
The head of the Amnesty Tech Security Laboratory at Amnesty International, Donncha Ó Cearbhaill, explained that Pegasus software is installed using zero-click attacks. As he said, it is enough to send a signal or display a special link on the screen. The user does not need to take any action to run this system.
Cearbhaill also talked about the case of Senator Krzysztof Brejza, who, according to researchers from Citizen Lab and experts from Amnesty International, fell victim to attacks.
– In September 2021, Amnesty International conducted an independent investigation into the device of Krzysztof Brejza. The analyzes have confirmed (…) that since April 2019, especially since the election campaign, this phone was indeed infected with Pegaus, he said.
– We found similar traces in the case of other phones that were infected with Pegasus in the same period of 2019. Our analysis also showed that a significant amount of data was transferred from this phone when it was infected with Pegasus – the expert said. He added that it is difficult to say what the data was. However, he noted that Pegasus could be able to access virtually all data on the phone.
– The situation is quite worrying not only for us, but also for the public, because it is spyware that has been misused. This may limit, among other things, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and all other freedoms not only in Poland, but all over the world – added Cearbhaill.
Main photo source: PAP / Radek Pietruszka