Diese Anhörung diente der Vorbereitung der Delegation, die vom 19. bis 21. September nach Polen reiste. Der Schwerpunkt der Anhörung, wie auch der Delegation selbst, war der Einsatz von Staatstrojanern in Polen.
Von der Anhörung gibt es ein Video, aber kein offizielles Transkript. Daher veröffentlichen wir ein inoffizielles Transkript.
- Date: 2022-09-15
- Institution: European Parliament
- Committee: PEGA
- Chair: Jeroen Lenaers
Panel 1: Ewa Wrzosek (prosecutor, victim), Roman Giertych (former vice-prime minister and lawyer, victim)
Panel 2: Professor Adam Bodnar (Lawyer and former Ombudsman for Citizen Rights of Poland), Anna Błaszczak-Banasiak (Director Amnesty International Poland)
- Links: Hearing, Video
- Note: This transcript is automated and unofficial, it will contain errors.
- Editor: Emilia Ferrarese
Use of spyware in Poland
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): Colleagues. It is some minutes past nine. So if you could all take your seats, I would propose we start today’s meeting and I welcome all full and substitute members of the committee. Today, we’ll have a hearing on the use of spyware in Poland. Interpretation is present in the following languages English, French, Spanish and Polish that goes for both the remotely connected speakers as the people in the room. And I apologize for the restrictive nature of interpretation today. But with the circumstances that we’re in, this was the best that we can do.
I move to the first point on the agenda, which is the adoption of the agenda. Unless anybody has any comments on the agenda that is adopted.
Point two is reporting back on the mission in Israel and I want to spend too much time on this. All political groups were represented on the mission, so I’m sure you all have provided extensive feedback to your colleagues. All ready. I want to thank everybody who participated. I think we will operate it as a team and it was a pleasure to be part of this mission. It took place in July. We had meetings with the representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs who set out the procedures for the export licences. With regards to this kind of technology, I think it’s fair to say that not all our questions were answered to our satisfaction, but we did get some valuable feedback there. We also met with Mr. Morsi, had asked a member of the Knesset, which I think most importantly he mentioned that the interest of the national public opinion in matters like Pegasus was very limited until it became revealed that all Israeli citizens were targeted. So it’s not a huge public debate there. We met with Mr. Gabi Siboni, with Dr. Tehilla Shwartz Altshuler, Professor Anat Ben-David, Dr. Nathalie Davidson Buchmann and Dr. Tamar Megiddo. And we discussed the possibility to use international criminal law when responsibility for export of cyber capabilities is bypassed. We discussed the difficulties in regulating technology such as spyware, the consequence of the close links between Israeli companies and Israeli intelligence services, and the silent acceptance of surveillance that exists in many places. Now, we ended our mission with a meeting with the CEO, the then CEO of NSO, Mr. Shalev Julio, at their headquarters in Tel Aviv. He argued and as always accompanied at least try to work on the regulations while competing with many others who weren’t. And most importantly, I think we were informed that Pegasus was purchased by 14 member states in total and that the licences of two EU member states were terminated because of non-compliance with user agreements. So I would like to leave it at that if you don’t mind, and move to the next point, which is point three. The Council of Europe meeting in Berne, the Council of Europe held a meeting in Berlin on the 5th of September as part of their investigation into Pegasus and other spyware. Our committee was represented at the meeting by our colleague Mr. Berg, who I thank very much for his willingness to go there. And I give you the floor for a short feedback.
Lars Patrick Berg (European Conservatives and Reformists): starts to speak in German
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): Interpretation from Germans.
Lars Patrick Berg (European Conservatives and Reformists): Thank you. On 5th of September, I had the honour to represent this committee at the conference of the. Of the Council of Europe in Bern. It was hosted in the Swiss parliament, and altogether about approximately 60 members of the committee and of the Council of Europe took part. And next to me there was a another participant, expert, Professor Tim Engelhardt, an expert for digitalisation and human rights. And Mr. Engelhardt and the rapporteur of the Council of Europe for investigation into Pegasus and Predator Software, the Dutch MEP, MP, Pieter Omtzigt actually focussed very much on the threats to democracy and human rights on the I mentioned software, Pegasus and Predator. Altogether, the Committee of the Council of Europe is awaiting the final report of our committee. The there was an overwhelming support and of the colleagues in Bern for the engagement and for the work of this committee. And they were a couple of members from Azerbaijan very eagerly taking notes and photographs during the session and in regards to questions of various members of the committee in Bern. And there were questions like, is this the tip of the iceberg? What threats does Pegasus pose to democracy and to the European member states? How can the digital sector be regulated much better? And in regards to the incidents in Spain and Greece. Who is responsible for these incidents? And finally, at the end of the hearing, there was quite intensive discussion between Spanish members of various parties in regards to the incidents in Spain. Thank you very much.
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): Thank you, Mr. Berg, for your contribution and then for going there on behalf of us all. Thank you. Then we move to point four, which is the hearing on the use of spyware in Poland. Of course it’s organised in the light of our visit to Poland next week and the coordinators decided to have this preparatory meeting to hear from victims and experts on the use of spyware in Poland.
Now, before I turn to the hearing itself, I want to say a word about the mission to Poland next week, because in preparation of this hearing and of the mission, I have sent personal letters to Ministers Kamiński and Ziobro. Minister Kamiński has answered that he is not available to meet us, from Mrs. Ziobro, we haven’t heard yet, but we have heard from the Permanent Representative of Poland to the EU, Mr. Sadoś. I received a letter that neither Minister will be able to participate in today’s hearing nor in our visit to Poland last week. Now, of course, we have offered flexibility to the Polish authorities for organising meetings with high level representatives of the ministries. But so far we have not received any commitment. Now I think it’s important to underline that this committee from the very beginning, and we will continue to do so, has always strived to get a complete as possible picture of the situation, in particular Member States and the European Union as a whole. And I think the participation of ministers or other representatives of the authorities is absolutely instrumental in making sure that all relevant context is taken into consideration by our committee. And the flat out refusal of the Polish authorities to cooperate with our committee is therefore extremely regretful. And I believe it also speaks volumes because scrutiny of the executive accountability, democratic dialogue, they are foundations of democracy and it’s regrettable to see the Polish authorities hiding from this. So I renew also from this podium a polite, yet compelling invitation to our Polish authorities. They’re still welcome, talk to, cooperate and meet with us. And even though we already have a full schedule, we will do our utmost to accommodate them. But I also want to reassure you, dear colleagues, that even without the participation of the Polish authorities, both our hearing today and the mission next week to Poland are going to be very interesting. We’re going to meet with victims, judges, parliamentarians, expert, journalist, ombudsman services and more. And all these meetings will allow us to really, I think, enrich our knowledge, deepen our understanding about the way the this type of spyware is abused and the impact it. We will take our responsibility as an enquiry committee to get to the bottom of this, whether or not national authorities are cooperating. That goes for Poland and that goes for any other country. I’m sorry to take so much of your time, but I thought it was important to be clear about that.
Then we move to the hearing and we will have two panels for this hearing. In the first panel, we’ll have Ms. Ewa Wrzosek, who is a prosecutor and also a victim, Mr. Roman Giertych, who’s a former vice prime minister and a lawyer, and is also a victim of spyware in Poland. So without further ado, I would start with you and you have the floor for 10 minutes.
Ewa Wrzosek, prosecutor (victim): starts to speak in Polish, technical problems
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): I look at the technicians.
Dominik Tarczyński (European Conservatives and Reformists): Mr. Chairman, if I may. I can translate it if you want to. And I know Polish very well, so I don’t mind.
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): About your Spanish.
Interpretator: Good morning. Here’s the English Channel. It now seems to be working so we can continue.
Dominik Tarczyński (European Conservatives and Reformists): Getting to the bottom of it. It’s a joke. It is a joke.
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): Mr Tarczyński. For someone. For someone who on average shows up 2 minutes each year. And I don’t think you have any right to.
Dominik Tarczyński (European Conservatives and Reformists): There is no translation. I can’t understand your languages. I can understand what you say. And that’s the difference. That’s the problem.
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): Can you please only speak when you’re given the floor? Mr. Tarczyński, like anybody else, you don’t have any special privileges here. I understand from Diana Riba that we have interpretation at the moment. So with apologies, Ms. Błaszczak, you have the floor again.
Ewa Wrzosek, prosecutor (victim): High Commission. Honourable Members of the European Parliament, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you very much for inviting me to this meeting, but also for the work. So far, its goal is to clarify using Pegasus, which is not legal in Poland. My role will be a double role today. I am firstly acting as a victim. And I’m also working as a prosecutor, and I was leading criminal proceeding proceedings regarding elections in Poland. And this proceedings were taking off from me just without giving any ground. I’m also a member of an association which is discriminated against only because we dare to criticise the Polish government and the actions taken by Zbigniew Ziobro who is at the same time prosecutor general. But as an active prosecutor, I cannot avoid to discuss some legal aspects. First information. About the possibility of my phone being hacked was sent to me by the company Apple on the 23rd of November last year. The information was sent again one day later. By a text message sent to my phone number. This alert number. This alert message. That that my phone was the object of a cyber attack. That was I was attacked individually in a targeted action because of what I do and who I am. The alert also said that if the iPhone was taken over by third parties, all my data, my sound data and all important. It is also important to mention that in the same month last year. This company also informed that a lawsuit was filed to the court against the company. And as a. And at the same time, Apple informed a small group of its users and including me, that we may have been the goal of the attack. On the 26th of November, I have filed a notification with the prosecutor’s office that my phone was hacked and that my information on the phone was accessed unlawfully. Next, I was contacted by an expert from John. From an expert from John from Expert Lab. We’ve been in touch and my phone has been diagnosed, analysed to see whether my phone has been hacked. After the analyst analysed the analysis performed by the company, it turned out that my phone has been infected six times. In the last six months and a moment of personal reflection. I remember the moment when I was called from and an expert from the citizen lab and he told me that my phone has really been hacked. Until that moment, I wasn’t really sure. But now I had the certainty. Even though I didn’t do anything wrong, I abide by the law. I’m a good citizen. I work as a public official in my state, even though my state decided to use such an action against me and I have been stripped of my privacy. And the fact that someone had an insight into my most private details, not only my private, but also professional details. And it should apply to any person that I have been in contact with. And I wouldn’t wish the worst enemy to live through this. The possibilities of Pegasus spyware allows for an unrestricted surveillance, full control of the mobile phone. Reading through emails. Short messages. Access to bank applications to your calendar. It also allows tapping, surveilling, monitoring any person, any place in the surrounding of the affected person through a microphone and camera. It all shows that the use of Pegasus is unlawful. What’s more… It is possible to place new I.T. data on the phone by the axis or deleting the data that whether an infected phone will also be infected. Pegasus can also change to factory settings and. Also allow for further attacks and data leakage in the future. So we can say that Pegasus is a cyber weapon and should not be used for such purposes. Because of this affair I have filed in a notification. I was heard twice. I declared that I can submit my phone to the Polish authorities. I also offered that I can contact Apple to secure the data confirming the attack on my phone. The prosecutor’s office denied me continuing the proceedings, claiming that there was no criminal act. Then I turned to court. Even though nine months have passed, I have no I have haven’t received any information. What happened? What’s next?
Ladies and gentlemen, it is clear that if we are to prosecute criminal acts, fight crime, we should be able to conduct operational control. Yet in Poland, such action can be taken only when other actions have proved futile or not useful. So this operational control is the last resort. And one must say that it is an aggravated instance of infringing our basic rights and that in a democratic country it may be only used when we are fighting very serious crime and crime pathologies. As the high control chamber has specified, we are very clear about the fight, about the fact that the Central Anti-Corruption Office has bought Pegasus in 2017 and CBA, in short, can also perform operational control with respect to some specific crimes. It is also important to mention that CBA can use this measure only to fight corruption in. In public life or. Whether we deal when we deal with some economic crime. And I would like to stress here that at the moment. There was no there were no legal grounds to use this action against me, according to Polish provisions. The Polish minister of justice and a same time prosecutor general, Zbigniew Ziobro, declared publicly that he didn’t not agree to use pig arses by state authorities. The declaration of speaking of Brown. Is, in my opinion. Not trustworthy. At the same time, he’s a prosecutor general. And he declares that he knows nothing about Pegasus. Even though as a prosecutor general, he is in control of operational actions. He has some insights into this and he also analyses the possibility of using different controlling measures. So it is not possible. Unless. This was a gross negligence on his part. It is not possible for him not to know that because this was used in Poland.
Ladies and gentlemen, just to finish off my speech. And before I answer your questions, I would like to turn to some conclusions that I reached as a practical person, as a prosecutor, because as. Can be used just like this. We don’t need any cooperation with TI providers. The operational control in Poland is controlled by a series of legal acts. But still they do not regulate using this tool. So we cannot claim that it is legal. Or not legal. And this, of course, facilitates using this spyware without the necessity to document using it. Because this was a spyware designed not to leave any traces on the devices that it infects. And it was also difficult to localise. The Polish authorities, led by Mariusz Kaminski, a person who in 2015 were sentenced for using data and abusing data or of operational controls and such persons as him have access to such tools, have so much powers including access to the private details of the surveilled prison. And we know that the Polish authorities did not do anything against it. And they thought, okay. The one who searches will fact find. Maybe we were some interesting data. And just to finish off, it is our task, the task of the state authorities to clarify the issue of using such illegal software spyware. Let me quote. Francis Bacon, the philosopher who said that knowledge is power and it is your task to not to leave this power without control. If Poland is to remain a state of democratic order just like the other EU countries, it is very important to clarify this and to assure that it never happens again, that we do not have unlawful surveillance of the EU citizens only because they are not comfortable to the state government.
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): The floor to Mr. Giertych. If, for those members present who would like to take part in the Q&A session, please indicate so now. So we can make a speakers list. Thank you. And also, please give the secretary enough time to note you down. Mr. Giertych, you have also the floor for 10 minutes.
Roman Giertych, former vice-prime minister and lawyer (victim): Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Ladies and gentlemen, John Scott-Railton, one of the directors of NSO said that Pegasus is a cannery on the mining grounds. These birds were in the in the past used to indicate whether there was a methane under the ground. Just to help people protect their health. What is this? Using Pegasus indicates that we have a danger of authoritarianism in a certain country. There is a significant difference between using software for fighting serious crime and terrorism, even if it is not fully okay and using spyware to fight the opposition. That was the case in Poland. It was used to fight opposition, just to name an example. Of course, you know, the case of Mr. Brejzer. His short messages were manipulated during the election campaign in 2019. But it also affected me. There was stenograms filtered out of my conversations with Donald Tusk. And it was analysed with a go with some illegal statements in these in conversations. I’m a lawyer of Donald Tusk until today. Transcribing such conversations of the client and his lawyer is a very serious crime in any country. And especially if this person belongs to the opposition. This is a clear path to a totalitarian country such as Turkey or Russia as we know it today. This conflict between the European Commission, European Parliament and the Polish government is a question whether Poland will stay a democratic country or a totalitarian country. A rule of law helps to fight organised crime stealing which is protected by the prosecutor’s office right now in Poland. And a group of some of the government people abuse what belongs to the Polish people. It also helps to clearly so do some surveillance on the Polish opposition. There is even though there is a significant difference between Poland and Russia, because we still have in some way independent countries. Which block the actions of the government. In my cases, the courts denied access to data to the Polish government to block their actions. Nine time. Believe me. A rule of law is not an abstract thing. If you’re sitting in handcuffs or you’re waiting for it to be sentenced, believe me, if you haven’t lived through it yourself. And I have to thank you for it to your peace. For an individual person, it has a very clear and devastating meaning. My home country. I would like to protect it from such a totalitarian system that we have. There is a very small difference between Poland or Belarus, where people are sitting. Innocent people sitting in prisons. But there are lots of judges, lots of lawyers who still fight, who do not want to give up. This is a blockage to block the invasion of such a totalitarian system in Poland. And there are also some independent media. So who protect this. We have still free media in Poland. And this is a great chance, an opportunity. For us. To be to set an example, which could be interesting for many countries to show how you can evade this danger, how you can prevent it. Because I’m sure this will change. We’ll have an election in any country and. We see what people want in the polls, and we hope that the order will be restored to such people as Ms. Wrzosek will not be surveilled anymore. And I hope there will be a fair trial for people who are now committing all the crime in Poland. And I’m also convinced that in a year we won’t have such a situation like this that the chairman mentioned, that Poland who does not want to cooperate with the European Commission. I’m sure that in the year the Polish government will be ready to cooperate and provide all the data that is of interest to you. I also think that we should consider one thing. Maybe also on the forum of the European Parliament. To build mechanism. Protecting its country from falling into a totalitarian system. It is not like this that everyone is free from it. We have many examples in the history where democracy was at peril. Because of many reasons. It was also mostly on the part of the greediness of the reigning party. Governing party. And because of their actions. We should work out a mechanism. Helping us to prevent. Or to protect three things in Europe. First of all, free media. Because without this, we’ll see democracies turning very quickly into totalitarian systems. We also had one year ago. We had. An attempt at. Liquidating Polish TV station is also too to evade the control of journalists or. The investigation of journalists. So, first of all, free media. Second element, which should be European standard, automatically setting a triggering of actions, blocking actions on a part of the European Union just to prevent a given country to destroy the rule of law. Without the rule of law, no country will be a democratic country. And there is a third element, namely the election mechanism. Meaning providing a true democracy. Pegasus was this methane, metaphorical methane in Poland. It showed that there is a certain danger. What Ms. Wrzosek said that she was stripped out of something. She and her acquaintances as family. She was stripped of dignity. And it is very devastating, if you know. That. There were there was unlawful action taking going on for many, many months. Searching for your emails, your short messages. This is a terrible feeling. It is not only about emotions, it’s a general thing because. In any country. This few people will be destroyed. Such people like judges. Lawyers. If there are to be destroy. We will have a situation where a country does not want the government that it has. But. They also do not have any means to overturn them. Luckily in Poland we have. An opposition which is restoring itself. And hopefully it will lead to the clarification of this issue and clarifying the thing with the methane. And I hope that I kept to my time. 10 minutes. Right. Thank you very much.
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): And because we don’t have a lot of time, I move immediately to the question and answers. I would also like to ask you to stick to the time limits, because at 12:00 we have votes, so we don’t have any flexibility to move beyond this hearing timing. We start with our rapporteur, Sophie in ’t Veld, just 2 minutes.
Sophie in ’t Veld (Renew): Thank you, Chair. And I would like to thank our two guests for being here and having the opportunity for an exchange. With a view to the time, I’ll just fire a series of questions at you in random order, completely random. To Madame Wrzosek. Sorry for massacring your name. You said your phone had been infected six times. Can you identify how that corresponds to specific moments in time? Why those particular times? Then we understood that in some cases, judicial authorisation had been granted. I don’t know about your cases, but there have been several. In some cases there has been judicial authorisation. And the argument was, yes, but this is necessary and justified. But I understand that in your cases there has not been any judicial authorisation and the authorities deny they have anything to do with that. Did I understand correctly? Is it correct that if it wasn’t the authorities, that by definition it’s an illegal act and the authorities should make every attempt to clarify this, which they’re apparently not willing to do then about the so-called bycatch, because if you are targeted, then so is anybody who has been in touch with you. So they, too, would have legal standing for finding a complaint, I presume, because it’s not just your side of the stories. Anybody who’s been on the phone with you, exchanging emails, sending you documents or pictures or whatever. Then in the cases where the government says or the authorities say there has been judicial authorisation and it was justified, can you confirm that that was based on the so-called 2016 Police Act, which was the amended police act and which has been deemed flawed by the Venice Commission. Then can you say something about, Madam Wrzosek in particular, how it affects your work? Does it have a chilling effect? And would you say it has a chilling effect on anybody who is trying to fight crime and corruption in particular? And then maybe two final questions. One. This is usually not just about, you know, monitoring your private life. It may this kind of spyware may be used to collect information that is going to be used against you or even indeed manipulate material which is on your phone. Can you say if there have been any attempts to either blackmail, intimidate or discredit you? And the final question, the previous government or the one before 2015 was also the target of wiretapping, not with this kind of spyware, but let’s say traditional while tapping. Would you say there is a connexion between that history of wiretapping and this wave of the use of spyware and the government parties? Thank you.
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): Thank you. First Ms Wrsosek and then good Mr Giertych to add.
Ewa Wrzosek, prosecutor (victim): When it comes to Pegasus. So if my phone was infected six times. At that time, I was delegates. I was sent by prosecutors abroad. That was a reaction to the initiation of investigation when it comes to elections, presidential election that was discontinued. So I was used to them in that context. I was used for six months in delegation. I had to leave my home, family, children, and for six months I worked 300 kilometres away from my home. And those dates match the times when I was in delegation and then when I come back to Warsaw. But I cannot connect them with any specific events that happened at that time. Perhaps it was false that when I come back from delegation, I will initiate some action. Something that would have to do with the fact that I was sent in interrogation. But, yes, surveillance by Pegasus is. What happens then that your whole life is made, being made public? This is my phone. I still use it because I was committed that in the same way I would leave it for examination, for investigation, because I wasn’t interested in exam. I do an examination of my phone and all the people that were in contact with me, all my friends, family, children, their friends, but also police officers or prosecutors. So that I wasn’t in contact with for professional reasons, because that’s how I also used my phone. All of this could have been surveilled. So this is not a breach in my private rights to private life. But also, when it comes to secrecy, when it comes to a leading investigation, you can imagine a situation when perhaps I was dealing with any thing to do with investigation, for instance, anything that deals with plants, arrests and so on. So at that time, those activities could have been surveilled via my phone. Ladies and gentlemen, every single one of us who say that we are honest and who say that we have nothing to hide. I also have nothing to hide. But it doesn’t mean. That’s I want that I would want. That’s all my life would be made public. As it was said here earlier on. You know, the technology that’s Pegasus is, uh, I’m not excluding that. If someone was searching for some material, perhaps no one was certain whether I proved that I committed crimes or not. Perhaps someone was searching for anything to discredit me or anything to blackmail me. Maybe not at any given moment, but perhaps to blackmail me in the future. And also what we’ve done here is. Manipulation of information, moving data. When it comes to any devices that are infected with Pegasus. So it’s difficult for me to say I don’t have any knowledge what materials have been obtained, who has them, who holds them? How it was documented. Whether these materials are somewhere or are they destroyed. This is a one unknown. And this is because. In Polish. This is not regulated. And because our current government goes beyond their competencies, beyond current laws. And in this situation, when the citizens can do anything, what is within the scope of law? So it looks like the government can go beyond its competences.
Roman Giertych, former vice-prime minister and lawyer (victim): I would also add when it comes to judgements of the courts, in my case I have very interesting statements. So the court says. The whole activities of the Central Anti-Corruption Bureau was illegal when it comes to me. So I don’t know anything about the courts authorising the use of Pegasus against me. But the. Activity of CBA. A service that uses Pegasus in Poland. That’s their use of Pegasus against me in Poland is illegal. And that was also a subject of the letter. Of former ombudsman to prime minister, and for that matter, he wanted to initiate investigation against CBA because they what they did was illegal. And it has been two years now. And so Prime Minister was asked twice and he didn’t response. And when it comes to examples. As in what they were trying to do with Pegasus. I’m speaking about third party. So my text messages to my clients. Who I was working for when it comes or I was working for because he was accused by a prosecution. It was a journalist. So. So that was. So my. Professional advice that. Was moved via Pegasus to the public television and it was publicised. They cannot be any bigger. Brits. When a lawyer tries to give advice to their clients. So this is the worst that can happen when it comes to a democratic state and also not even in a coming communist at times. And never would say that accused cannot have confidential conversations with their lawyers. This never happens in Poland before. First time in our history, something like this happens. And second thing my emails. Emails between myself and my clients. Well publicised in media. It was obtained via Pegasus. And that was an attempt to strip my rights to carry on with my occupation. So application was filed to my. Applicant to my organisation as. But how this finished, it was discontinued. But there are two examples. Whereby not only the information was obtained from my phone services, obtained the conversations from my phone between to scan myself and others. But it was also publicised. This is the big way of breaching civil rights when it comes to operational control. Thank you.
Vladimír Bilčík (European People’s Party): Thank you very much. And I’m extremely grateful to have this opportunity, Ms Wrzosek and Mr. Giertych, to listen to you. I think these are extremely important testimony for our work. And I really have only one question to both of you, and that is, why is this happening? Why was this happening? And what is the government what are the authorities doing about this? Let me be a bit more specific. Have you obtained any official confirmation or denial from the Polish government authorities that you have been subjected to surveillance? Have you been given any reasons or motives for this surveillance? Has the prosecution launched investigation into allegations of illegal surveillance? And I’m asking these questions because we are not getting any answers and is extremely regretful also in light of the fact that this hearing is taking place right before our mission, important mission to Poland and the authorities, the government in Poland is not engaging. By the way, let me just say, it is an essential duty of any member state to engage with an enquiry committee of the European Parliament. So I would like to hear from you as the victims of this, what have the authorities done? What has been the public response? Because this is indeed a problem which concerns Poland. But we have had questions with respect to other member states and we have enquiry committees set up not just in this Parliament but also in the parliament of another member state. So there is an engagement, a level of engagement which is at least trying to seek answers. And it is extremely frustrating and regretful that we are not getting any answers from those who should be helping you as victims of what has been happening to you. And maybe just one last question in 10 seconds. I have to. Mr. Giertych, you talked about elections, next year’s elections, but how confident are you that Poland can have free and fair elections, given what has been happening? Thank you.
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): Thank you. Maybe Mr Giertych first this time, and then Ms Wrzosek.
Roman Giertych, former vice-prime minister and lawyer (victim): When it comes to free elections, I think that they will take place because Poland still have some one element of independence. So when it comes to lower. Global organisations so certain. When it comes to some technical matters, it is organised by other organisations. So elections are organised by people who work via those organisations or. Are not appointed by those organisations. When it comes to technicality. As I participated in many elections, I think there is no way to falsify a election when it comes to counting the votes. It wouldn’t be fair. It wouldn’t be Democratic. As in the governments will be using public TV, public money, prosecution, special services, anything that they can to fight the opposition. This is something that they can do, but. But when it comes to being fair, they wouldn’t be able to do much when it comes to counting votes. And in Poland, the mood is against the government, really. So any means, any money that they will use in Jacksonville, Public TV, this will not help them. It’s happened in the past that the government party that governs has a lot of money, but they wouldn’t win. So on one way, election won’t be democratic, but when it comes to counting the votes, I don’t think that’s a it can be falsified. So then it means that’s a government that is in power now will lose.
Ewa Wrzosek, prosecutor (victim): There was a question, how, when it comes to surveillance that was revealed how police powers what the governments did so. We were told we were told that these people were just laughing, really. They were speaking about some computer games. So when it comes to the reaction. Who should explain this matter? There were. So we’re just saying that’s nothing happens. And. And we have to speak about any software. And they will say that all of this is done according with the Polish law. And also this is completely not true. And also there was some media action directed into people who publicly said they had information that about their phones were infected by Pegasus some journalists from the government TV world. Or undermine it in a vulgar way. And myself, I have initiated an investigation with Samuel Pereira from a journalist from TVN. And when it comes to surveillance Pegasus so. There were conversations. That’s because is only used against offenders. So. This shows real discrimination for myself, for a prosecutor who still carries its function as a prosecutor. So when it comes to the Polish government, we have not had any reaction. And as it was said earlier, Mr. Ziobro or Kaminsky don’t want to cooperate in any way at all.
Łukasz Kohut (Socialists and Democrats) Ms. Prosecutor, Ms. Legal Counsellor, thank you very much that your available here and… It is unthinkable that the state government in a 21st century acts like this. This is a Soviet excess and approach using such weapons. This is Putin’s country in a nutshell, and the government says that it is to protect citizens. Please accept my statement that we’ll do everything we can to clarify the issue. Mr. Giertych represented Mr. Donald Tusk when he was infiltrated. So it is possible that all your private conversation might have been unlawfully surveilled. And it might have been might have also posed a danger to the interest of the European Union. We cannot allow this that. President of the council is invigorated. Surveilled by a third party. Do you think that the European institutions shouldn’t take it as a priority?
Roman Giertych, former vice-prime minister and lawyer (victim): Well, I think at that time when I was surveilled, I had about nine legal proceedings, both the public ones and private ones for Mr. President Tusk. Of course, you’re right that I also had some private conversations regarding political topics. But it is not my task and the role to say what the job of the European Parliament Commission is. But without a doubt. Recording conversations of the President of the European Council of. May. Be interpreted as an attempt at taking influence, of course. There was nothing illegal in these conversations. If there was something illegal, you would have heard it on television because. This is the way the mechanism worked. If they found anything that they could question, they used it against me. What was that? From what? Because I’d have a bottle revealed is the opposition newspaper in Poland. The conversations between me and Mr. Tusk were recorded, transcribed and sent to the sent to the Ministry of Justice to analyse if there are any, if there is anything that could be used politically against us. As a legal counsellor and attorney. It is a very it’s very difficult to me because a principle, one of the principles of my profession is to keep confidentiality. And we never trespassed against this. Ruled against the rule of privacy. It’s the first time that wiretapping and spyware has been used to spy on the conversations between lawyers and their clients. And it constitutes a very serious infringement on the actions of prosecutor’s office in Poland.
Róża Thun und Hohenstein (Renew): No. Sorry. Thank you, Chair. This is very devastating and depressing because I heard the story for I heard a story for many times. Thank you very much again for providing the statements, for trying to protect the rule of law in Poland. And you set an example for the European Parliament and for many more that we haven’t given up in Poland, that we are still fighting. We’ll fight for the rule of law. But at the same time, I must admit that your statements. Bring back memories from many, many years ago. I remember when I was a young person fighting for freedom in communist times in Poland. We were called dissidents at that time. And I remember when Yasser Koren said to us, we are all be being tapped. With any possible means we arrested. And I remember when our main leader, main opposition leader Yasser Koren, said, you have to lead a very honest life so that you don’t have to be ashamed of anything because they will take us to court. They will do proceedings. They will lead investigations against us. So this was the big goal of this invigilators to find anything that would put these people at risk or will allow to laugh at them or to divide them in public. In the European Parliament, we often hear from our colleagues from the party that these wiretapping has been done in a legal way. It has been approved by the Polish government. What you said contradicts that. I want to. I would like to know what it was like. I would like Ms. Wrzosek to clarify again. Was there a situation that the court agreed to that? Issued an approval to do this wire tapping. If so. The judges who allowed that? Were they informed in full about the situation so that they could really decide whether it’s possible or not, whether informed or not? And about the cooperation of between judges and prosecutors office. Because we know that the prosecutor’s general is also the minister of justice. Okay. I’ll finish at that. And how can the victims protect themselves and recover to justice? Thank you.
Roman Giertych, former vice-prime minister and lawyer (victim): As far as the legality of the wiretapping is concerned. I have proof that there was no such legal grounds in my case. The court said that it was illegal, and two years later, the prosecutor’s office took my phone and tried to get the approval from court to access my phone to try to. You try it at least. And there were proceedings before a regional court and. Appeal Court in Warsaw. To see what a prosecutor’s office can get data from the phone and that the answer, after a few months of proceedings of the court, was clear that it is not possible to get the data from the phone mobile phone of a lawyer. And. The court returned my iPhone to me. And this is the same court which can approve wiretapping. This is the same court. So in my opinion, there is no such possibility for any court to issue an approval to access any phone unless this is done anonymously without providing the name of the affected person. I think all the judges in Poland, in my experience, 35 years and all the judges know me. If they saw my name, which is quite popular in Poland, they would definitely notice that. And they would not allow this because, as Ms. Wrzosek said. Wiretapping is illegal. And wiretapping a lawyer leading any proceedings is absolutely inadmissible.
Ewa Wrzosek, prosecutor (victim): I’d like to confirm what Mr. Giertych said. We say courts, but we mean by this would mean a concrete judge who decides on an application. The Polish courts. If we have such applications sent to courts. Of from the Polish government. It is all decided on the local, on the principle of locality. We know which applications, which application goes to which court. The judge in charge. Must decide on this application. And there is a dual wide possibilities of manipulating which judge may decide on which application. So the spyware Pegasus is also not named clearly in the application that it will be used. And apart from this, according to Polish provisions. You do not have to provide all the proof, but only a very small aspect to the case. So even if the judge wants to analyse everything thoroughly, he or she has access to a very limited number of data and the application, the decision needs to be made very quickly. So no judge has the possibility to read it carefully. And as Mr. Giertych said, the application is quite often filed to just surveil and then to find person. The judge only sees the phone number, just not seen the name. Even if the Polish authorities know the name, which person should be surveilled, even if we know all know Mr. Giertych in Poland, we don’t know his phone number and. A judge in question might have not be aware of whose this phone was. Phone number was. And Pegasus. Spyware has incredible possibilities of infringing one’s privacy, not only in real time, but also in future and in the past, because it can also access your calendar with meetings and appointments. So this surveillance. Trespassers. On all the provisions provided by the Polish law. So any judge would say no to using Pegasus.
Saskia Bricmont (Greens): Thank you very much, and thank you to both of you for being here with us. And I would like just to start my intervention by saying that our chair kindly renewed its invitation to the Polish authorities in a very polite manner, although I really see their refusal as clear and one more demonstrated demonstration of disrespect, total disrespect towards democracy and also the Polish and the EU citizens represented by this House. And although, as has been said already, it is an obligation to answer before an enquiry committee. So I would like to ask you a couple of questions that I would also have like to ask to the authorities. After the spying, did the authorities open an enquiry? Official enquiry, a judicial enquiry against both of you under allegations of corruption or financial criminality, for instance, because you mentioned that in the law also, as the Polish authorities answered to the European Commission, because the European Commission addressed a letter to the Polish authorities, and the only answer they got is that they would not answer under national security reasons. So I would also like to ask you, because you didn’t, I think, really mention this aspects. What’s your thought about this? Thank you very much.
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): Thank you. First, Mrs. Wrzosek.
Ewa Wrzosek, prosecutor (victim): Maybe…
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): Mr Giertych.
Roman Giertych, former vice-prime minister and lawyer (victim): Well, I think the proper answer should be the report provided by European Commission, which. Uh, referring to the last year and a Pegasus case. It also said. That there were investigations, politically motivated investigations around this case. I never had any criminal proceedings until the moment where I was arrested two years ago. This case was not about corruption. The prosecutor’s office said that I filed a lawsuit for a company that had no chance to succeed. Then it was checked that the lawsuit was legal and that the company succeeded. There was a prospect of succeeding. Anyway, the. No. Legal proceedings. There was no action that could entitle the Polish government to lead an investigation or proceedings against me. And it was not related to any crimes because I never committed any crimes. I also think what I haven’t mentioned so far. The actions against me were also motivated, as far as Pegasus is concerned was. Where proceedings that I led for and those from businessmen from Austria that’s felt duped by Jarosław Kaczyński on his behalf. I filed an application to the prosecutor’s office and these proceedings were not comfortable for Mr. Kaczyński because this businessman recorded conversation with him. And he was, of course, also related to Mr. Kaczyński because he was the husband of his cousin. And in 2019, we had so much proof that the opposition had to lead the case. And I think that the obvious motive to use such means mechanism against me use because against me where these proceedings. Because the attack occurred in autumn 2019 and the application was filed a few months before. The case was in 2009, and I think this was related to this. Thank you very much.
Ewa Wrzosek, prosecutor (victim): When it comes to myself. I think there is no factual or legal. I’m thinking I was a prosecutor. There is no base to spy on me with Pegasus. The only one grant for it could be that I am a member of the Independent Society of Prosecutors. And also we dealt with some of you here today. So we prepared reports. We write about the state of police, prosecutors office. We fight for its independence. So it’s not used by prosecutors who uses a prosecutor’s office for his own political interests. It is not for fighting crimes. So the only investigation that is being led about me, it’s. It’s by the prosecutor office because. I started in 2019 investigation against the presidential election. The government wanted to organise during the pandemic. And because that was that’s what’s endangered life for citizens, like trying to have elections on during the COVID 19 pandemic. And when I started to work within my professional competencies, I wanted to check whether the act of government doesn’t end then the civilians who participated in the election. And straight away that was discontinued. Discontinued. And then I was delegated as a it was a punishment 300 kilometres away from my family home. And then I found out that the initial investigation was initiated, initiated against me because I initiated an investigation in 2019. And I wanted to said as a prosecutor, I do, where you say it’s in investigations and this is the type of situation that I believed was against the law that’s happened in 2019 and the official version of Mr. Prosecutor job role and service. I was a target of surveillance that I committed a crime. So that was the reason. So how is it that I still work as a prosecutor and I’m still working as a prosecutor? So. So it is a contract. Contract. It contradicts itself. I haven’t committed any crime. I still work as a prosecutor in your states in investigations. So when it comes to surveillance. Wouldn’t be applied because of legal matters. It was just illegal.
Dominik Tarczyński (European Conservatives and Reformists): Thank you very much. Question for Mr. Giertych. Do you have any knowledge? When it comes to purchase of such software by Mr. Ponnuru when PO was governing Poland, do you have any information about purchasing that software in Italy? Have you ever heard about it? And also that hackers hacked this Italian company and that the first signals about it tapping via cyber were in the times where a civic platform was in power. And the second question. You said when it comes to freedom in Poland are independent courts. Why do you want to go to a Polish court? And Ms. Wrzosek, you are not a judge. You are a prosecutor. So what are your opinions about yourself? My have nothing to do with the reality. You already made the judgement. You said that you are an honest person and there was no grounds. To surveil you in any way. So. Who are you to judge on your own case? Since you are a lawyer and prosecutor, obviously you have a right to do that, to have your own opinion. But I don’t understand why you and Mr. Curtis here. Why do you not want a response in court? Your summons. You fainted. Despite that, you are on good health. Why don’t you want to react to the notification from prosecution? From prosecution? This is a democracy. Why don’t you want to go to the court? So this looks as undermine the rule of law? Undermine the court. So these are very important matters. Did you react? Did you have any knowledge about. No. Did you have any knowledge about surveillance of journalists when Civic Platform was in power? Did you react in any way? Meetings in Parliament and European parliamentary took place. I’m speaking about the party of Donald Tusk. So is he supposed to now? Answer questions when it comes to the software that is supposed to be both in Italy. And one more question and when it comes to the Pegasus. Is it doesn’t mean that democracy is undermined. So all government that has been used have been using this software and then Israeli companies. Should they? Response for the because of this. And what about other member states as well? What about German representatives should be there soon to court as well, because I believe you don’t believe in double standards.
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): And they have not invited themselves to this committee. We have invited them because we are interested in their expertise, opinion, and it is about now the time to listen to them. And we actually ask them to give us their judgements and their conclusions. So I’m very happy that they do so and I’m sure we can all take that into consideration. So first, Mr. Giertych.
Roman Giertych, former vice-prime minister and lawyer (victim): So to respond to your first question, I know nothing about any softer. That would be both by Mr. Tunic. How am I supposed to know anyway, as I wasn’t a politician. I wasn’t a politician in governing at that time. And in your opinion, why I don’t respond in courts. Well. I am a lawyer. I am in the court every day. And two months ago, a prosecutor didn’t come to a hearing that was initiated by me. That a prosecutor did not come to my hearing. And I so I, I filed a lawsuit and I was present there. Thank you for your question. Because this aggression. That appears, in your words. It shows where the problem is. So auto parts when it hits the power when it is in power. Its organisers. Still on a mass scale. And then through its press, the prosecutor’s office hides. Offenders and then these people are aggressive. That’s hence the attack in a personal way. And, you know, anyone could ask you or you could ask a colleague. What about Aleppo? She sit next to you? How did it happen? That prosecution discontinued the case when it comes to what was being collected and people had doubts whether what was collected, whether that was given to poor people in Syria. Please ask your colleague. So if someone wouldn’t be happy with you, they could ask you how did it happen? That prosecution didn’t initiated investigation that someone from the government nominated your partner to the company that was that belonged to the government? Someone could have asked it, but I don’t ask it because there will be time for it’s there will be time to resolve all these matters. And though there will come times when prosecution will be independent and will ask all these questions and there will be investigation that will explain all these matters, regardless of the aggression of those that ask these questions.
Ewa Wrzosek, prosecutor (victim): I didn’t. I know what my role is. I said at the beginning that I’m here as a victim of surveillance and as a prosecutor. So when it comes to my first role as a victim, I went with that to the courtesy office, but they didn’t do anything with it. When it comes to prosecute. So I understand what are legal regulations in Poland? I don’t speak about legal rules in other countries. I’m speaking here about Poland and where it is banned to use this sort of system to conduct operational control. If we had the time, I could speak about more regulations. Which led to contact operational control. But not with Pegasus. Why? I don’t want to go to court. You say I’m being subjective. I understand that you were speaking to Mr. KURTZ when it comes to me. I’d like to answer in court, because if I was subjected to surveillance. So where is this investigation? This investigation? So the only thing I can say. There is one investigation that has been going on for some time. And in that case, I have not been interviewed yet what they’re doing. They want to put my case as an example. So other prosecutors in Poland wouldn’t initiates any investigation that wouldn’t be comfortable for the governing body, because then they would face the same consequences as myself. Thank you.
Roman Giertych, former vice-prime minister and lawyer (victim): I wanted to add when it comes to the courts. I met the prosecution in this case nine times, and I win. I want all my case on all the cases. So the court said that it was the prosecution that committed the crime. So I don’t think you have any knowledge when it comes to that.
Bartosz Adam Arłukowicz (European People’s Party): Thank you, Mr. Chair. I would like to ask you a lot of questions. We don’t have enough time, but all of you sitting here and colleagues from all over Europe. I am looking at the moment that we are facing today. Today we have heard former vice prime minister lawyer of Donald Tusk that had to go from prosecution to prosecutor. This person here was handcuffed by the prosecutor of the government. You have here a Polish prosecutor. Polish prosecutor that initiated investigation. When it comes to a presidential election during the pandemic. In my opinion she started it in order to force because so to check if it was in order to falsify elections. This is why she had Pegasus in Poland, in her home, in her toilet and in her bedroom. Here we have got a Polish ombudsman. The only institution in Poland. A person that. Had the courage to face those who are putting you down. And we will speak to him soon. And in a week time in Poland, we will speak to bring the Senator of Republic of Poland, who was also in charge of elections and prosecutor, also started with him with Pegasus. So this is what is happening. We are not speaking to someone who may be committed a crime. We have got a lawyer here, Vice Prime Minister. You have got Senate Senator. And we are speaking in Europe about things like this today. Mr prosecutor. Mr. Lawyer, how many cases do you know cases of people being arrested by this government, those offenders? Do you know actually anyone that was put to prison? We know many people where surveillance kills the press and so on. Just points out at least one offender. You know, this environment, your lawyers or perhaps an ombudsman can answer this question. I have one more question. We have got lawyer and prosecutor. Can you please answer? What’s. Criminal responsibility lies. On those who illegally goads Pegasus since opponents who used it and used it against you. What will they face? In that circumstances if they place it in the dirty hands of a TV persons. What will they will they face if they used Pegasus against you and not against criminals? Ladies and gentlemen, perhaps I will start from the ends when it comes to a criminal responsibility. So when it comes to people that boat Pegasus from justice funds. Using money from the justice funds, and this is the funds to help victims of crimes. And this way, just softer was bold. And this has nothing to do with the goals for justice funds. So the regulations were amended so CBA could. Use means from that source. When it comes to responsibility, when it comes to crime, when it comes to people who are who both that software or use that software, their behaviours could be a. Could be taken because of that could they could be taken to court because it goes beyond the scope of their competences. And we don’t know who Cosmos was used against. We don’t know how collected data was used and whether this will be used or maybe it is being used. I don’t know any case. No, I don’t know any convicted person. That’s what something like this would happen. And so when it comes to a personal system, you know, there is like six thousands of prosecutors in Poland. But I know one thing. If the courts would know that evidence would be obtained via Pegasus and the courts would know about it. So that evidence. Are. Are not actually evidential material in courts. So if Pegasus works this way, that’s. That’s accused person can have can have, therefore can have their phone infected. So that means. That’s evidence that is obtained through Pegasus. This that evidence can be undermined in court. So. So just that sort of ground doesn’t have any base to use this sort of spyware. So. And what I would say is that would be ten years. And when it comes to judgement, this case, when it comes to workers of CBA and people who boats that software, that means 5 to 7 years of imprisonment.
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): Yeah.
Juan Fernando López Aguilar (Socialists and Democrats): My question would be addressed to you, Mrs. Wrzosek, in your condition of. Public prosecutor. We have met. We have talked. We have talked to each other in Poland. And it was at the outset of this whole sequence, which is in itself scandal, European scale. But my question is addressed very particularly precisely, not only to your experience, but also to your legal training and knowledge, full knowledge of the Polish legal system, considering that you are a public prosecutor yourself. First of all, a massive intrusion in the confidentiality of communications of private communications is a criminal offence in every member state of the European Union. Including yours? Including yours? So supposedly there should be a way to bring to justice, to bring to court, to prosecute those who are responsible for the interference, for the pervasive intrusion in your private communications. How is it possible that there is not a legal sequence that you can share with us? Is it because precisely you are under the hierarchy of the public prosecutor, head of which is the Ministry of Justice? Mr. Ziobro. Is it because there is a monopoly of legal action, of criminal legal action in your judicial system? Tell us about it so that we can actually understand. How is it possible that you, public prosecutor, you have been a victim of an intrusion and you have not sought for legal redress. Thank you.
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): Thank you.
Ewa Wrzosek, prosecutor (victim): Well, let me start with this. As soon as I informed the prosecutor’s office to clarify the issue. The prosecutor’s office rejected that, and that was only the beginning. The lady prosecutor was out soon after that. Promoted to the highest level of national prosecutor’s office from the regional prosecutor’s office. So it is difficult not to assume that it was a reward for rejecting my application. I don’t know if she did it for Korea or because she was scared, but this is what it looks like in Poland. The prosecutors in Poland are part of some key Iraqi are under the prosecutors, General, and they have without any doubt to follow the instructions of the prosecutor general. They cannot oppose without being able to fear the legal consequences. What I and the members of cyber omnia could experience. And the problem in the situation is also combining. The two officers, the minister of justice and prosecutor general. We have just. In 2006. This started in 2006 when Mr. Ziobro returned to his office and he treats the prosecutor’s office as his tool to surveil chosen persons and to seek redress in some legal situations. A few years ago, when Mr. Ziobro was appointed to dysfunction, I was asked. What will happen in a particular case. I was able to say what will happen in a particular case because I have 25 years of experience, I have qualifications, know how and so on. So if asked about any legal situation, I was able to provide an opinion. Now. I may only say what should happen with a particular legal case, but there is no guarantee that if things will be regulated as they should be based on the legal provisions without taking any sides. Unfortunately, we can barely talk of Poland as a democratic country. We are facing. I. Progressing decay of the rule of law. And there will be a long path to restore the system, to restore the trust of citizens in the system. This will be very hard and long path.
Marcel Kolaja (Greens) Thank you. I like to thank our guests that they’re taking part of this hearing. What we’re discussing here is about one of the essential pillars of democracy. It’s about upholding the rule of law, because in countries where the rule of law is respected, illegal activities have legal consequences. They are punished by law. And I must absolutely agree that this hearing feels really depressive. As my colleague Róża Thun said, because I don’t have the feeling that the illegal activities described of unlawful breaking into your devices and subsequent surveillance are on track to a resolution, as we expect in countries where the rule of law is upheld. And it’s very clear that we speak about illegal activities because it is not legal to spy. On citizens without a court order in first place. And the court has even confirmed that in this particular case. So, Madame Wrzosek, you are a prosecutor. Mr. Giertych, you are a lawyer. So both of you are extremely knowledgeable about law. So let us be clear. According to you, are there any further legal instruments left for you to defend yourself to make sure that the illegal activities that you were a victims of are punished by law? And let me add one additional remark towards Mr. Tarczyński here. You said, and I quote you, this is democracy, end of quote, and in democracy, legal obligations are respected. It is an essential obligation of a member state to cooperate with enquiry committees of the European Parliament. So as the Polish government refuses to meet the representatives of the European Parliament on a mission to Poland next week. Mr. Tarczyński perhaps you could help us to defend democracy in Poland. Could you please contact your government to explain them their obligation? Thank you.
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): Thank you, Ms Wrzosek first.
Ewa Wrzosek, prosecutor (victim): Well, that’s true. This is very pessimistic, what I’m going to say. But as far as the access to legal methods or instruments is concerned, that could allow us to clarify this and to bring. The relevant people to court. I’m quite pessimistic about that. We have certain structures, but they are not working because it is all manipulated by the political. Politically. Especially as far as a legal area justice is concerned. Even though we have people who fight for free media, free courts. It is still very difficult in in our particular cases at this institutional stage, there is no possibility to bring the respective people to justice. My trust and belief in the fact that some consequences will be met. I put my trust in you. We can only apply to European institutions, to the Court of the European Union, and it is only our only hope to punish the people in Poland who are responsible for this unlawful surveillance. Well, the situation in Poland is like this. The prosecutor files. Lawsuit. So we cannot bring Mr. Albright to accuse himself. Of course, we still have three independent courts. If Mr.. Whenever Mr. Ziobro accuses us and files a case against us, the courts equit us. That’s why we’re still here. Only because we still have independent courts in Poland that do not allow our opponents to put us in prison, just like the opposition in Belarus. The only action that we could take to punish the. The affected people? Yes. In a year it will be possible after the election. We will do it as.
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): That concludes our first panel. We are running out of that. We’ve collected all the speakers at the beginning of the… We didn’t notice that if you raise your hands at the beginning. Of course. I apologise, sir. I’m sorry. But, Ms. Kempa, as much as it is a pleasure to have you here, it’s been a while that we saw you in our committee. You did not raise your hand when we asked you and only raised it at the very end of the debate. So I do apologise. But we have taken the the speakers at the beginning of the session. We missed Miss Barley.
Katharina Barley (Socialists and Democrats): I will be very short.
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): Very short. You have very, very shortly the floor.
Katharina Barley (Socialists and Democrats): The first question is a more professional one. Because I was a lawyer and a judge myself before entering parliament or politics. You said that I assume that in Poland also, it is illegal to spy on lawyers, priests, journalists, etc. in general that they have special protection. So if it is the case that you only see the number, then how can in this system, these professions be protected just in general? And the second one is a political one. You have trust in in the judges that decided in your cases. But we are seeing more and more judges being replaced by judges who are loyal to the government. So do you see the danger of not being protected by these judges anymore in the near future?
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): Thanks, be very brief in the answers, Mr Giertych.
Roman Giertych, former vice-prime minister and lawyer (victim): As far as the secrets of priests and lawyers is concerned, wiretapping and eavesdropping on conversations between a lawyer and his client is not legal in Poland, so no court can get any approval for this. As Ms. prosecutor said, the state government sometimes try to manipulate this. They do not provide the names or exact phone numbers or very small data. Of course, there is a risk that we won’t be protected in the future. For instance, in a case that we do not have any election next year, that the officials will just, the government will just continue. We won’t have any instruments to protect our citizens. Similar to the two prosecutions taking place in Belarus. We’ll see what the time brings. This will also have implications for the whole European Union.
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): Once again, apologies to Ms. Thun and also to Ms. Kempa. But we did close the speakers list. So you are more than welcome to participate in the next panel. We will immediately move on to the next one. Thank you very much to our both guests for their contributions. It was very useful for our committee and I’m sure it’ll give us a lot of food for thought and additional questions when we travel to Poland next week. So thank you very much.
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): And we move immediately to our second panel. I invite Mr. Bodnar to join me here on the podium. And we are connected remotely with Anna Błaszczak-Banasiak, who is the director of Amnesty International in Poland. With a view to the time, I’m sorry, colleagues, but we cannot do the ping pong system. So I will give both colleagues, both guests the time for 10 minutes, and then we collect the questions as a group. And we will give both guests the opportunity to respond. If Ms Błaszczak-Banasiak is connected and ready, I would give her the floor first for 10 minutes. Thank you very much. Welcome.
Ms Anna Błaszczak-Banasiak, Director Amnesty International Poland: High Commission. Honourable Members of the European Parliament. First of all, I would like to thank you for inviting me to this meeting also for the work of this Commission so far, which proves that the European Union can and should share responsibility for the use of spyware by Member States and its impact on citizens rights and freedoms. Before moving to our work in Poland, I would like to briefly outline Amnesty International’s role in Norman Ohman, tracking the activities of NSO and his Pegasus software. Over a year ago, Amnesty International became part of the People’s Project, a joint investigation of more than 80 journalists from 17 different media organisations coordinated. And by forbidden stories. We have technical support from Amnesty International’s security lab. As you probably know, NSO Group claims that its Pegasus spyware is only used for investigating terrorism and serious crime and leaves no trace. And I would also like to underline that Amnesty International’s research so far in the framework of a project shows that neither of these claims is true. Because this project revealed how spyware sold by the cyber surveillance company NSO Group of clients has been used to target activists, journalists, lawyers and politicians. It exposed the devastating impact that the poorly regulated cyber surveillance industry has had on the rights and well-being of individuals unlawfully targeted. This project also shows finding research findings reveal that individuals rights to privacy and freedom of expression have been seriously violated. It is important to stress that the uncontrolled use of such surveillance technologies is limiting the space for human rights work and rapidly exacerbating digital threats against human rights defenders that are spilling over to the offline world. I would like to stress that a huge part of these findings also relates to problems found in the use of Pegasus software in Poland. Until now. The security lab of Amnesty International has confirmed six cases of unlawful surveillance in Poland. These include, amongst others, mistakes, just a brazen occurrence. Senator and former head of the election campaign, largest opposition party in Poland, Amnesty International, confirmed. Also the findings of Citizen Lab. You have to know that we support each other. Also. To defend against some contraventions or accusations of doing. Of not doing proper research. Our lab has also found traces of Pegasus infection attempts on the phones of Magdalena Łośko. She was the former assistant of Senator Brejza and now the MP of the opposition party. And on the phone of Ryszard Brejza, mayor of Inowrocław and privately Krzysztof Brejza’s father. This is also of particular importance because previously disclosed cases of unlawful use of pictures is important in both infections of phones running on iOS. Meanwhile, the Android infections are much more difficult to detect. However, the methodology, our methodology makes it possible to uncover the use of Pegasus on Android devices by indentifying identifying the short messages. Through which the phone was infected. On such Android devices belonging to Magdalena Łośko and Ryszard Brejza, we found a total of 14 such short messages. I mention this because the materials that we send to the secretary office of the commission. There is a very detailed analysis of such messages. Please pay close attention to this because the content of this short messages says a lot about the methodology in the whole system and the way of proceeding by the public authorities. If we have time, I’ll be glad to discuss this modus operandi. Our lab also found traces of attempted Pegasus infections on the phones of Pablo Tam Boesky, deputy treasury minister, between 2012 and 2014 of André Dugas, who worked with the ministry at the time, and Rafael Banach, who was second deputy treasury minister between 2011 and 2015. The use of spyware was allegedly related to the ongoing investigation of the privatisation of the chemical company taking place under the previous government. What’s interesting in these cases is that. The special authorities were particularly intensive in their surveillance of Andrew Walker’s between 2018 and 19. We registered 61 attacks on his mobile phone. I stress this because. The number of these attacks is the highest number of attacks that Amnesty International has ever observed. When conducting research around the world, Pavel Tomasky has been attacked, at least targeted at least five times. I would like to stress specifically that the methodology of our research is public and available on our website. A comprehensive description of this methodology, as well as Amnesty International’s recommendations to European Union and Member States, have already been sent. To your secretary of the commission. Following the disclosure of this information, Amnesty International called on the Polish authorities to stop using the unlawful and targeted surveillance, recording that the use of spyware is only lawful if it meets strict conditions as set out in international human rights law, and that any surveillance must be lawful, necessary, subsidiary, proportionate and limited in time. The conclusions that emerge from the cases of surveillance that have been revealed so far make one assume that the methods used in Poland do not meet these basic criteria. First of all, as we have already said today, these actions do not have sufficient legal basis in Polish law. The. The principle of proportionality of the action also raises serious doubts. You have probably noticed that in the cases revealed so far, we have not been dealing with serious crimes of a terrorist or criminal nature. But the manner in which the service is used in this case allows us to assume that the victims were selected on the basis of their political affiliation. Amnesty International also calls on the Polish authorities to conduct an immediate, impartial and further investigation into all cases on unlawful surveillance to close in Poland and to use all legal tools that ensure that victims of violations receive adequate redress and that those responsible will have held accountable in accordance with international human rights standards. However, I would also like to note that the path to this is extremely difficult. My previous speakers mentioned this as well. The victims of the Pegasus software in Poland have been disclosed so far. Came to know about this as a result of research conducted by either Amnesty International or Citizen Lab or from other private sources. As Ms. Wrzosek said, Polish law does not oblige a special services to inform, of course, after a reasonable period of time after determination of operational activities. It is not obliged to inform that the person was under surveillance in one way or another. This means that dozens or perhaps hundreds of victims will never know that their private lives have been subjected to large scale surveillance and will never have grounds to claim compensation for this. Given the scale of interference with the right to privacy and the current capabilities of Pegasus software, this seems particularly worrying. I would therefore ask that this important aspect not be overlooked in the work of your commission. That’s it from my side. Thank you very much. And I’ll be happy to answer your questions.
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): Thank you very much. Ms. Błaszczak-Banasiak. And to Professor Adam Bodnar, who was the ombudsman in Poland between 2015 and 2021.
Professor Adam Bodnar – Lawyer and former Ombudsman for Citizen Rights of Poland: Thank you, Mr. Chair. For invitation. Members of the parliament. Thank you for this invitation. First of all, I wanted to say that I believe that the work of committee is really important when it comes to standards of public life in the EU and when it comes to explaining this abuse that we are speaking here about. And I believe in the works of this committee, because I remember ten years ago when Claudia Álvarez commission was working. Committee was working and they tried to explain the matters when it comes to kidnapping and CIA imprisonment. And not everyone was believing in that committee. But then as further information was obtained, public opinion, the public was able to form their opinions about what happened. And I believe that there is something some similarity here, because this problem is not about just my country, but it relates to other member states. That’s why we have international cooperation. And that’s why NSO Group is also important. The role is important when it comes to Pegasus. What was already said during the previous panel, this is a big a threat to the democracy, democracy to the public order. And it has been happening since 2015. So special services are like. The government is in charge of them and they started to hold different functions in the country. So I don’t want to repeat what was already said. I want to add that this case is extremely important because of the scope of the abuse and because of who was being surveilled by Pegasus. Of course, we can say politician, prosecutor, lawyer, a key politicians from previous governments. But if we think about the situation of each of these persons, a surveillance of a lawyer means fundamental threats to protection of an accused person. So the work of prosecutor. It means that prosecutors need to protect a law and order. So surveillance of such people or business people. Because, for instance, Mr. Malinowski or Kojak were also surveilled. This means that difficulties when it comes to parochialism or associations. And so on. But we could just keep on repeating that it’s not about breaching lives of this particular persons, but. We have to speak about being able to use our personal rights in public life and so on. But I believe that being here today. It’s important to pay attention to the surveillance of politicians because surveillance of a prisoner who was in charge of election and it cast doubts whether in this situation, election can be fair. And one of the people that was that was responding in the commission in sin of the commission, he said this person said that if this sort of information came to light, then the courts would have to pass the judgement that the election was not invalid. So we cannot see any bigger bridge when it comes to our debates. If the biggest opponent’s opposition opponent is being surveyed and what about the European Parliament? Because it’s all here, everyone should have equal chances. So I said many times already, when it comes in the context of a media in Poland and the threat to that media, and we have a do we have space for pluralism and election to the European Parliament and. And perhaps this is something that the European Parliament should look into and we have to look at the legal assessments when it comes to Pegasus. And perhaps it would be able to explain whether Pegasus could be used in the eyes of law, in the light of law. So we have to look at Article 19. When it comes to a police act, it’s not possible to use it because it is technology that leads. To intervene in the space of. Intervene into the life of others. In fact, phones and records, everything that is happening. And secondly, this is a technology. It’s not like the state has gold is the owner. The state just buys the licence. So there is a danger that. When it comes to data as this technology is not certified. So this data can be accessible to services from the outside. And there’s another matter. When we look at the people that were subjected to surveillance, it’s difficult to imagine how they there would be any applications of calls to for us to survey those people. So what I think it’s important to add that police authorities didn’t take any action to explain this when it comes to prosecution. It’s a. It takes time. So the only thing that you can say that, yes, something is happening, but there are no consequences to face and the about the 25 million souls lot that we’re used to from justice funds to buy software. Uh Pegasus. That has to be explained. And also the only commission that is doing investigation, it doesn’t have a legal standing when it comes to actually do investigation, is the synods commission of synods and everyone else denies to participate when it comes to the government. So it’s important to us because it wasn’t mentioned earlier. This case also shows that Pegasus is a consequence of what happens earlier because before Pegasus. The use of Pegasus. We had a lot of objections when it comes to Polish, Polish law and in the scope of possible surveillance and abuse of operational control. And what is important here is to remind that on the 27 of September. We will say that next door there will be a hearing in European Tribunal of Human Rights. We are speaking about five lawyers and activists. And. This case is about the whole structure of the police law when it comes to surveillance and wiretapping and operational control and 11 institutions. Explode showed their opinions and some of them will be in court in the tribunal. So I believe this will be very important day to speak about Pegasus And I believe that Pegasus will be important elements when it comes to that discussion. And the seconds matter that I wanted to speak about. Pegasus case shows how important it is to regulate supervision of special services. This was already set by a commission in Venice in 2016 that was proposed by three experts. Amongst them are Mulan. And that’s what was ignored in the end. And. So what? What happened then? There was no fault about. When it comes to my work as the ombudsman with a group of experts, what we did is we were working and then we created documents as in how to create in Poland, institutions that would supervise special services and how to protect civilians, and that citizens should be informed afterwards that they were subjected to surveillance. And when it comes to what should happen in the future. It is important to pay attention to the reports of from 2017 from in the EU agency creates complex reports about surveillance and about and starts in some member states in some member states systems of control are not sufficient enough. But now, five years later, technology has got more functions since there is a software like Pegasus. So now we have a reasons that agency of Fundamental Rights should restart the activity, because only by a clear recommendation we can create something that will matter for Poland, but also for the EU. Thank you very much.
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): For the Q&A, I have on the list. Sophie in ’t Veld, Bilčík, Kohut, Thun, Riba, Arłukowicz, Heide and Halicki. Anybody else wants to? Miss Kempa? Mr. López Aguilar, so we have ten, ten people and the list is closed. We all get maximum 2 minutes to speak, and then we still have ample time for our guests to apply and close the meeting at 10 to 12 so we can all get to vote. First, Sophie in ’t Veld, 2 minutes.
Sophie in ’t Veld (Renew): Thank you, Chair. And here’s my usual random selection of questions, maybe starting with Mr. Bodnar in the previous round. I also refer to this and I think you also spoke about that the amended police act was amended in 2016 and it had to be amended following a ruling by the Constitutional Court. But I read the opinion of the Venice Commission on the current Police Act, and they consider it is basically fundamentally flawed. But is this police act now being used as the legal base for any surveillance operation and not just talking to the cases we’re looking at, but generally. But has it also been used in the cases at hand? And, uh, and then, uh, can you say something about the, the so-called bycatch? Because it’s not just the people who are targeted, whose privacy is being violated. It is everybody that they have been in touch with. So do they have a legal standing? And has anyone brought your case before the courts in in Poland? And then I have to say, also, after the previous, it’s still not entirely clear to me what the government has and has not admitted. So I understand that they have admitted to buying spyware, but they say we’re using it for legitimate purposes, is used, for example, for the fight against corruption. Uh, in the case of Mr. Giertych, who went to court, there was a court case, there was a condemnation. So then there must also have been some sort of recognition of the fact that they used it, but it was illegitimate. So it’s not entirely clear to me, do they completely deny using it in these cases or do they say it was legitimate and there has been a process and then you can argue about whether it was legitimate or not. Um, I also, you know, two or three more things very rapidly to Amnesty International. So you referred to the use of spyware before 2015. Was that actual spy actually spyware like the same kind of stuff we’re talking about. Is that on record? Are you aware of spyware other than Pegasus being used in in Poland at this particular moment in time? And one final question to both of you. Do we know if any of the material that has been obtained has been used? We heard about the material obtained from Mr. Giertych that it appeared on television at some moment in time. Are we aware of other cases?
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): Thank you. Vladimír Bilčík.
Vladimír Bilčík (European People’s Party): Thank you. Maybe as a couple of points. First, Madam Błaszczak one is now following this committee’s mission to Israel. We know that NSO cancel the licence of two EU member states and it’s very likely Poland was one of them. My question is, do you have any indications that Polish authorities may be using perhaps other systems against persons deemed as political opponents? Any discussion on this? And also in terms of the broader picture. What patterns do you see in terms of selecting targets, methods, duration of surveillance? Based on the data you’ve collected over time? Now to Mr. Bodnar, a couple of points as well, if I may. Basically, if we do assume that at the moment the Polish government is not using Pegasus, do you feel that the political opponents, activists, lawyers, citizens may be free from the threat of government surveillance? Or do you still fear that there might be unjustified ways of following people around? And if so, which ones? And maybe a broader question, because this is one of the goals of the committee to really help set sets of rules based on what we find in different member states. What are key safety mechanisms that you would recommend to be implemented for Poland based on what you have experienced so far? Thank you very much.
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): Thank you, López Aguilar.
Juan Fernando López Aguilar (Socialists and Democrats): Thank you so much, Mr. Chairman. I would like to address a very direct question to Mr. Bodnar. You have suggested the incompatibility of the spyware Pegasus with fundamental rights at stake, which are protected and enshrined by the charter, for one thing, which is binding for all the Member States of the European Union, which is at work here. That would be some kind of anticipation of the conclusions to which this special committee should be drawing the lessons out of everything that we are to learn through our discussions over gatherings and the testimonies amongst them, yours. But the question goes, you have suggested, too, that there is no way that you can prevent us, to your knowledge, that the legal use of that kind of spyware by intelligence services, provided that there is a legal regime for that would initial authorisation, would make a negative impact on the fundamental rights of other third parties, other third persons, which are not under investigation. Is that correct? That is a question. Are there of course, is there is a way to prevent that? There is no further scope of such an investigation on the private communication of a person who is investigating or targeted without interfering with the committee of third parties. And third, according to your knowledge, there is a way to make sure that all the further impact of that investigation would be destroyed, as it’s actually the legal regime in some of the member states. That some communications which are not under the scope of the investigation, which is under way, are to be destroyed, legally bound by a legal mandate for them to be destroyed. What is your knowledge about that, that those specifics in your in your assessment?
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): Thank you very much. Róża Thun.
Róża Thun und Hohenstein (Renew):Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. You said that the surveillance is the European Union case, and I would like us to have a broader view of this. I’m very happy that you see the advantages of the work of our committee, that you have high hopes in this and that you say that we should regulate the monitoring of the special authorities. But does that mean that we need a new European architecture, a new institution? However terrible it sounds, that will protect the citizens from its own government. But because we were in talks with Europol and they told us we cannot do anything without the approval of the government. So what’s your opinion on this?
Diana Riba i Giner (Greens):
Yeah. Okay. Thank you. First of all, thank you very much for being here with us. I like to highlight what my colleagues said about the licences removed for to state members about Pegasus. Let me wait for a second. Yes. We’re waiting for a moment. I wanted to highlight on the information mentioned about the licence is removed by some state members and that one perhaps was Poland. Do you know what has happened in the last months? Has there been any surveillance? Have any mobile phones devices been hacked during the last few months? As far as you are aware, I like to also ask a question. To Ms. Błaszczak, please excuse my pronunciation. I wasn’t sure about the case she mentioned about. A victim with the most cases of interferences and hacks into the mobile. Could you please say how many attempts, how many attacks into this device? I wasn’t really sure about it. And another question for Professor Bodnar. Could you please tell us if you have relationships with other ombudsmen, with other member states, if you’re doing any cooperative work with other member states who have victims of spyware? All with a union of the actual EU. Since I believe you have a very important figure within the member states and our society. So I’d like to know if there is any work, co-operative work in this regard. And any information about the collateral victims of this type of spyware. Do you have in Poland? Any case, this lawsuit’s about the victims of spyware. Thank you.
Beata Kempa (European Conservatives and Reformists): Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, that I am allowed to say a few words on this very shortly. This committee is being used for internal political fight in Poland. It transmission today is good proof of that. We know that more than 100 countries uses this software. From what has been said by the representatives from Europol and different companies in the previous meetings, and I think that such software was and is being used, this technology is advancing. I’m more interested in the fact that this. Software is being used to fight contract terrorism and organised crime. And my last sentence I was being insulted by Mr. Giertych. I must say that you have to prepare for such a committee because the journalist who insulted me had we had a legal proceedings, I sued her and she had had to excuse me for that publicly. And I would like you to know that we have special procedures, provisions, legal means in our country regulating this. And Mr. Bodnar, I would like to invite you to do politics. If you want to fight the government. Then you should become a politician. And not to use or use your situation. And if the special authorities want you to come round, then you should that. That’s it. Thank you.
Bartosz Adam Arłukowicz (European People’s Party): Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. It’s very absurd what we heard from Ms. Kempa. She said that Ms Wrzsoek, Mr. Giertych, Mr. Bodnar, are using some political means to fight the government. No. The government has used the Pegasus to fight them, to fight opposition. Mr. Ombudsman, how many times you addressed the State Government during your mandate about the unlawful surveillance? What did the officials say? And I’ll use this moment to say one thing. If you have the courage to buy Pegasus using the money that it is not yours. If you have the courage to spy on people, the private life, the prosecutors, politicians, and not the criminals, then you also should the courage, have the courage to stand before the Committee of Enquiry and say, yes, we bought it or not? Yes, we spied on Ms. Wrzosek or not. So this is the legendary courage of Mr. Ziobro, and Kaminski shows us that stages flee from the commission. They do not come here. Although they have been invited. Gentlemen, do have the courage and tell us we haven’t done anything like this. And it all will be clear. And if you don’t want to face the commission, the committee, then there is a question mark. Why you don’t want to tell us that you didn’t do this. We all ask ourselves the question, What are you afraid of? If you have not sent them, come here and tell us to the face. You have the courage. We wait for you in water.
Andrzej Halicki (Group of the European People’s party (European People’s Party)) Thank you very much. Very interesting question, maybe not the question from Ms. Kempa. You said more than 100 countries, 102 countries. If only in two cases we had an intervention and removing the licence. One of the cases was Poland. What happened in Poland then? I would like to ask our experts, because this is very interesting, not only about the scale of the operations, but about the cost. Whether a has Amnesty International tried to estimate the fund because the licence has been bought from the ministry funds. This is a dozen of thousands of. Of funds, of zlotys and euros. It is also very interesting what Mr. Lopez actually said that it allows to propagate to different devices. So the question is about the operating funds. How much does it cost? And to Mr. Bodnar because the legal aspect is very important. If we are faced with unlawful operations and we want to question the election result, then we must be secure. As far as the rule of law is concerned and the fight against terrorism is concerned. We’re building the European standard of security. If we do not have such institution. And should Pegasus be illegal in the European Union? What do you think in this regard?
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): So I will pass the floor back to our guests for 8 minutes each. Not before I said, because one of the comments was addressed to me as well. And if any colleague is concerned about the agenda of our committee, of course every group, including yours, Ms. Kempa, is free and invited to add suggestions to these agendas. But then you also need to do it. I don’t accept complaints if you don’t cooperate constructively in the set-up of these agendas, I don’t complain afterwards. So you would free to add suggestions. Feel free to invite the Polish authorities to add their perspective. But don’t come here with cheap complaints. Now, having said that, I move. I will take them in reverse order. So I first give the floor to Mr. Bodnar for 8 minutes, please.
Professor Adam Bodnar – Lawyer and former Ombudsman for Citizen Rights of Poland: Okay. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I’ve tried to answer it in short, because the questions, although the questions were very long and complex. One question from Ms Tibet. What other materials were used in public. I think the case surprise this case is very interesting because what has been the insights from the investigation were used by the Polish television. Regarding Mr. Brejzes actions. I think a very important issue is, well, the approval of the court. Or the authorisation to perform controls. Via Pegasus. I think we live in a kind of a double reality. On the one hand, it’s a very media driven reality because the courts agreed. They said, well, everything was okay, but it’s very difficult to verify. Or demand, okay, let’s show us the proof and the state, in which case the state government can say no. It’s all confidential. It’s not possible. And later on, it’s quite difficult to clarify which cases these approvals belong to. And I think this contributes to public confusion, and the public opinion starts to believe that. Although no approval might have been granted at that time. There was also a question concerning legal standing. Of the people. Accidentally affected by surveillance? Yes, I had one interesting case where a CBA published the transcription of the affair concerning the villa from Casimir stole them. There was an accusation of that. The owner owned it unlawfully and the whole. But it was terrifying that the whole material transcription and including private materials have been published disclosed. And I think the affected the suit persons have every right to file against it because the public authorities cannot make third parties affected by this. So apart from dealing with this spying software that infringes on the rights of the third people, I think that the third person should have the right to fight for the rights. Another question concerning the freedom of the of our citizens and our meeting on the 27th of December will deal with that. The Polish system is. Um, characterised by some leakage. That means many proof are gathered unlawfully. And I think there is also one system allowing us to get some better data. Which is a very powerful tool. It allows us to see what certain individuals do in real time. We don’t need pickles as fiddles. And it is actually not being controlled really. In our Venice committee we deal dealt with that. But apart from this, we have two decisions digital rights Ireland and the decision tell it that were not implemented in Poland the decisions from Strasbourg. And after 2015, we had no practical debate or changes in the law system that would limit the actions on the part of the state governments. So they have a great freedom of action. And what was said before the break, the mechanism of maybe no, not coercion, but getting approval for operational control and wiretapping. There is a certain pressure on judges. If a judge in Warsaw gets lots of applications in the evening to verify, he or she has very limited capabilities to verify them comprehensively. So I very much hope that the case in Strasbourg will be very illustrative of this problem. I’ll set an example. The question from. Mr. Lopez Aguilar Concerning the consequences, consequences for third people and the use of fundamental rights, I think this is one of the fundamental problems. What can European Union do when cases of public order and national security are a thing of the national states? I think it is very important as such a liaison officer. And this legal element is. Or are the elections to the European Parliament? That’s the view of Europe scheme. The Commissioner also took a stance on Pegasus and said that it also infringes the. Private. The privacy of individuals. And we also have the case of processing the data by the police authorities, the so-called dodo directive in in Polish. Now, we should consider what are all the instruments that we have are being implemented or not. We also had one case concerning infecting phones with Android system. And this was also what often done in an unlawful way. For instance, people got emails of notifications from public private companies. Excuse me. And. Individuals have no chance of knowing who was contacting them. They really felt that they were contacted by the companies. So we need to assure that we have right and independent action in this. There is one stand that such materials gathered in this surveillance process should be destroyed officially, and using the data should be precisely regulated. So that is not abused. Ms. Riba asked about the cooperation with other ombudsman. I don’t remember anything like this, but we had some sessions in Barcelona concerning the cooperation between the special authorities. And also in the context of ombudsman work. To Ms Kempa, I would like to say that as when we had the committee concerning Father, we I was also here, I was present here. Now I am not acting as an ombudsman. And a lot of questions. The piece that I have mentioned. Now the relation between elections and using such technology. Yes, such technology may manipulate the elections. Thank you very much.
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): Thank you very much.
Ms Anna Błaszczak-Banasiak, Director Amnesty International Poland: I would like to start with the actual procedure. I will start again. From the question about. Details how? How are. When it comes to implementation of applications about legalisation of Pegasus, I think what we can say, we can say that we don’t know that and this is a big challenge for you, your committee. What Professor Bodnar already said, we are supported by declarations from NGOs, for instance. But the government and special services in Poland did not produce any evidence that would let us see whether applications were made to the courts. And if so, what was the content of those applications? Because this is key, as Madam Wrzosek said, when it comes to the law for compensation. So of course. But when it comes to legal law, Polish law, yes, the compensation can be obtained. But when it comes to a law such law the victim can receive only when that person has the knowledge of been illegally surveyed.
And as I said during my first statement, according to the Polish law, special services do not have to inform such people after finishing their activities that something like this took place. So when it comes to the to the rights of compensation, compensation only people that we’re likely to find out from other sources that such methods were applied against them and any other people, perhaps, perhaps hundreds of them. And also the first part is that we mentioned during this hearing, these persons will not this rights if they want to be informed that such tools were used against them. And when it comes to cooperation with Israel and NSO group, perhaps to be brief about it, I would like for you to look at the material that we sent. We analyse everything in great, great detail. We analyse all the activities and what you could do and I would like to highlight what is very important memorandum. So at the present time we believe that the most important from a European institution is to give memorandum that towards won’t allow the usage of software Pegasus and other similar software for as long as the EU will not find any way to protect human rights and freedoms and citizens. And perhaps I will mention because Professor Bodnar mention about the connexion to the EU law. That is also important, but we also analyse in our materials. A few others possibilities. Like regulation from 2021. About dual use. So I believe that some tools and connexions are possible to. To use here. And there was another question. About taken off licences. Amnesty International didn’t analyse that. We don’t have any more detailed information about it, apart from what has been already revealed by NSO publicly. But however, and I want to highlight this, that such activity, such activity is not sufficient enough. Because there could be other firms that could decide to distribute similar software. So they have to be liable for the usage of such tools. By the States in order to survey civilians. That’s with contravention with the human rights. And what’s about how many attacks I had? If it wasn’t clear. I will answer again. This number fluctuates. Fluctuates depending on the case and the analyses conducted by Team National. We have. Attacks from three or four attacks, attempts of attacks. So 61 attacks. When it comes to entry goals, when it comes to praise, they’ll be confirmed 33 attacks. And of course we are not certain what’s why there are more or less attacks in any given case. But we can suspect that’s a. A factor could be in. It’s just a technicality that’s possibly due to low gout or a. Once the from the infected phone, once the phone is disconnected. And one more thing about the fact that other countries use Pegasus and that this is not just a Polish problem, for sure that’s the case. I started, sir, in my statements from activities in Amnesty International all over the world. But I also want to pay attention to the to the fact that if a country has that software, it’s still not illegal when it comes to human rights. But what I want to repeat when it comes to internists, internists in international, we see a possibility that it could be used illegally as long as we mention it has to be legal. So it has to be according with the law and it has to be necessary. It has to be proportional and limits. It’s restricted in time. And I wanted to pay attention to this element of proportionality because. Madam Kempa. Is that about application of the software when it comes to terrorism and similar? Our research didn’t confirm that. We don’t have any evidence of that. We haven’t documented any cases of that. And last matter when it comes to costs of usage of Pegasus, we have an estimate said that as into Amnesty International also because access to such data is not. It is rather confidential and when it comes to the costs such as the licence. For sure. We have to take into consideration training of workers and technical support. For such people that would be deal with Pegasus. So for sure. Police states would have to pay for that. And at the end of like to. And for you like to have a look at documents that I sent to Secretariats. Thank you very much.
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): Was appreciate if I do lengthy closing remarks, but I will refrain that because we’ll need to go voting with. Thank you very much. Your contributions today have been instrumental for the work that we’re going to do as a committee and especially also with a view to the mission that we will have in Poland next week. So thank you very much for being with us. Thank you all, colleagues, and good luck with the vote. Our next meeting is going to be on Thursday, 6th of October, from nine to 12, just to conclude that formally.