In the past I have often spoken (1,2) about Pegasus, the spyware originally produced and distributed by the Israeli company NSO, which has been used by various states to spy on activists, opponents and journalists. Now, with the upcoming European elections, the issue of spyware use in Europe is once again in the spotlight, raising concerns about privacy and the integrity of democratic processes.

In the face of several journalistic investigations exposing the use of spyware, the EU Parliament’s Committee of Inquiry “into the use of Pegasus and other spyware” did not produce any sensational results. On the other hand, the activities of an internal investigation within the Polish government, which is producing interesting results, are of a different nature.


The polish Central Anti-Corruption Bureau (CBA) reportedly acquired Pegasus in the fall of 2017 for 33.4 million zloty (7.84 million euros) from the Polish company Matic, which had bought it from the Israeli NSO Group for 25 million zloty (5.86 million euros). Matic held a license from the Ministry of Interior for IT services and arms trading.

An AP investigation in December 2021, corroborating Citizen Lab’s findings, revealed that the CBA used Pegasus to spy on Senator Krzysztof Brejza’s phone 33 times ahead of the 2019 European Parliament and Polish parliamentary elections. Brejza was a key figure in the opposition’s electoral campaign at the time.

In a significant move to address those past wrongdoings, Poland’s prosecutors have summoned 31 individuals believed to have been under surveillance by the notorious Pegasus spyware. This group includes two former military police officers, Joanna Jałocha and Karolina Marchlewska, who had previously reported abuses within the military police and found themselves being monitored.

Karolina Marchlewska, one of the alleged victims, expressed the toll this surveillance took on their lives, “Our lives and health have been shattered. For seven years, we faced harassment and slander, and were stripped of our ability to serve in the military, which was our calling. Now, we learn about the Pegasus surveillance. We demand an explanation and accountability”.

The case has gained momentum under the new administration of Prime Minister Donald Tusk, who assumed office in December and pledged to thoroughly investigate the alleged misuse of Pegasus. A special parliamentary commission was established in February to delve into the spyware’s deployment. The following month, Jarosław Kaczyński, the president of the Law and Justice Party (PiS), which governed during the alleged abuses, was called as the first witness by the commission.

The scope of surveillance is alarming, with nearly 600 individuals potentially monitored between 2017 and 2022 under the previous PiS government, as stated by the current Justice Minister. The Minister for Security Services highlighted that while many surveilled targets were legitimate, there were “too many cases” where Pegasus was employed against merely “inconvenient” figures for the former government.