EU Politicians Targeted by Israeli Spy Software

EU Politicians Targeted by Israeli Spy Software

European Commissioner of Justice Didier Reynders and at least four other members of the European Commission were the target of espionage software from the Israeli security company NSO Group last year. Details about the wiretapping are unknown. For example, it is unclear who is behind the attack, whether the spyware has actually been successfully installed and what information may have been stolen.

Reuters reports this based on its own research. Insiders confirm the reports.

Hackers used Israeli hacking tools

The issue came to light when Apple voluntarily sent messages to thousands of iPhone users worldwide last November that they were “targeted by state hackers.” This warning set off alarm bells at the European Commission.

In an email dated November 26, 2021, a senior employee updated his colleagues about Israeli hacking tools. He also advised them to keep an eye on additional warnings from Apple. “Given the nature of your work, you are a potential target,” the employee wrote in an email to his colleagues, Reuters said.

NSO Group denies any involvement

According to the news agency, the hackers used spy software from the Israeli security company NSO Group. The attackers would have tried to listen to European Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders and at least four of his colleagues from the European Commission. Reuters could not find out whether that was actually successful and what information may have been leaked.

The news agency has approached Reynders and his spokesman David Marechal for a response. Despite repeated requests, they did not respond. Johannes Bahrke, spokesman for the European Commission, and Apple also declined to comment.

Reuters had also reached out to NSO Group for comment. In a statement, the company said it is not responsible for the attacks. The security company says that “no tools from NSO” could have been used in the attack.

European Parliament investigates Pegasus software

The news comes shortly after the announcement by the European Parliament that the Dutch MEP Sophie in ‘t Veld will lead an investigation into Pegasus. Pegasus is eavesdropping software developed by NSO Group. It collects digital correspondence, documents, photos, videos, location data, and contact phone numbers. The spy software can also record phone calls, listen to the microphone, take screenshots and take pictures and videos unnoticed.

Pegasus has been in the news regularly in recent years. The program was found on the smartphones of 189 journalists, among other things. Prominent figures such as French President Emmanuel Macron and President of the European Council Charles Michel are also said to have been tapped with this software.

The Commission of Inquiry wants to get to the bottom of the matter. “There are clear indications that governments are abusing Pegasus against the democratic opposition,” said Sophie in ‘t Veld, announcing her role as chair of the inquiry. Together with 37 other MEPs, she will look at the extent to which the tapping software has been used to spy on European politicians and other prominent figures. The findings will be presented next year.

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