Logo Assembly Logo Hemicycle

Politicians and journalists targeted by spyware testify at PACE hearing in Paris

Hearing on secret state surveillance and spyware

Politicians and journalists from Poland, Spain and Greece who have been targeted by the Pegasus or similar spyware gave testimony at a public hearing of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in Paris on 12 December 2022, which was live-streamed in English.

The hearing, organised by PACE’s Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, focused on the role played by spyware in secret state surveillance, as part of a report on this topic being prepared for the Assembly by Pieter Omtzigt (Netherlands, EPP/CD).

Introducing the hearing, he said: “It is a very serious matter for democratic countries to spy on their politicians, on their journalists – and to do so for years. It’s a grave abuse of human rights when that is happening, and that is why we have invited those who were subjected to that to come here and tell their stories.”

Participants included:

Krzysztof Brejza, a member of the Polish Sejm from the opposition Civic Platform party, and a former member of PACE (accompanied by his lawyer, Dorota Brejza).

Diana Riba, a Spanish member of the European Parliament from Catalonia’s Republican Left Party, and Vice-Chair of the European Parliament’s committee of inquiry which is also currently investigating the use of Pegasus and similar spyware.

Thanasis Koukakis, an investigative journalist from Greece specialising in financial affairs, who has reported on corruption and money laundering (via teleconference).

In two earlier hearings, the committee heard from journalists who first revealed the spyware surveillance, as well as data protection and legal experts, and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

In an April 2022 introductory memorandum, Mr Omtzigt listed the different Council of Europe member states where it is alleged Pegasus has been used, those individuals targeted, and the different national inquiries into its use that have been launched, as well as international reaction so far.

The final report is due for possible plenary debate by PACE in June 2023.

Video recording of the hearing