Staatstrojaner sind eine Gefahr für Grundrechte und Demokratie – und deshalb ein Thema für die internationale Politik. Darum sollte die EU das Thema staatliches Hacken dringend auf ihre geopolitische und diplomatische Agenda hieven. Das ist das Fazit von Richard Youngs und Steven Feldstein. Sie sind die beiden Autoren der dritten Studie, die der Pega-Ausschuss in Auftrag gegeben hat. Am 19. Januar stellte Professor Youngs den Parlamentarier:innen im Europäischen Parlament die wichtigsten Erkenntnisse vor.
Die Autoren gelangen zu der Einschätzung, dass die EU vorrangig den Handel und Einsatz von Pegasus und ähnlichen Überwachungswerkzeugen stoppen sollte. Die dadurch gewonnene Zeit solle die EU nutzen, um staatliches Hacken besser zu regulieren. Ein weiterer wichtiger Baustein, um Staatstrojaner in den Griff zu bekommen, könne zudem die Außenpolitik und internationale Diplomatie der EU sein. Das Thema sei isoliert kaum denkbar – selbst wenn die EU konsequent Staatstrojaner regulieren würde, hätte sie damit keinen Einfluss auf das Verhalten von Drittstaaten. Es benötige hier auch eine diplomatische Agenda, etwa eine engere Zusammenarbeit mit den USA.
Streit zwischen polnischen Abgeordneten
Im zweiten Teil der Anhörung ging es um die zweite Untersuchungsmission des Ausschusses. Nachdem die Abgeordneten im Sommer 2022 in Israel waren, reiste im September 2022 eine PEGA-Delegation nach Polen.
Der Vorsitzende des Ausschusses, Jeroen Lenaers, sprach im September auf einer Pressekonferenz am Ende der Reise von einer „Krise der Rechtsstaatlichkeit in Polen“. Lenaers wiederholte ausdrücklich seine Kritik an der polnischen Regierung, die sich bis heute weigere, mit dem Ausschuss zusammenzuarbeiten.
Als Expertinnen waren Ewa Wrzosek, Staatsanwältin und Opfer von Pegasus, sowie Paweł Wojtunik, ehemaliger Leiter des polnischen Antikorruptionsbüros, geladen. Sie sollten den Abgeordneten ein Update über die Ereignisse seit ihrer Reise nach Polen geben. Ewa Wrzosek sagte, „wenn sich in den vergangenen vier Monaten etwas geändert hat, dann nur zum Schlechten.“
Gegen Ende der Sitzung meldete sich Dominik Tarczyński von der rechtspopulistischen Fraktion EKR zu Wort. Tarczyński gehört der Partei „Recht und Gerechtigkeit“ an, die in der aktuellen polnischen Regierung die Mehrheit stellt. Seine Wortmeldung konnte als Drohung an Ewa Wrzosek verstanden werden. So sei er froh, dass die Aussagen von Wrzosek aufgenommen wurden, denn diese seien „skandalös“. Die Staatsanwältin sei keine Richterin und nicht befugt, sich zur polnischen Justiz zu äußern.
Wrzosek hatte zuvor den Parlamentarier:innen gesagt, dass ihr Handy mit Pegasus infiziert wurde und inzwischen Verfahren und politische Kampagnen gegen sie in Polen laufen würden, mit dem Ziel, sie aus Ihrer Position als Staatsanwältin zu verdrängen. Hinter all dem stecke Zbigniew Ziobro, der Justizminister und Generalstaatsanwalt in Personalunion. Es sei keine „normale Situation“ in einem „demokratischen Staat in der Mitte Europas“, dass sie als Mutter ihre Handynummer an Anwälte geben müsste, als Sicherheitsvorkehrung, sollte sie eines Tages plötzlich verhaftet werden.
Der Vorsitzende Jeroen Lenaers wies Tarczyński darauf hin, dass Frau Wrzosek als Expertin eingeladen sei und als solche auch ihre Expertinnenmeinung kundtun könne und solle. Die Berichterstatterin Sophie in ’t Veld warf ein, dass auch sie froh sei, dass alles aufgezeichnet werde. Denn Tarczyński sei erst zehn Minuten vor seiner Wortmeldung zur Anhörung erschienen – er hatte also auf Aussagen von Frau Wrzosek geantwortet, die er nicht gesehen hatte. Der Pole Łukasz Kohut von den Sozialdemokraten bezeichnete Tarczyński’s Aussagen als „absurd“.
Von der Anhörung gibt es ein Video, aber kein offizielles Transkript. Daher veröffentlichen wir ein inoffizielles Transkript.
- Date: 2023-01-19
- Institution: European Parliament
- Committee: PEGA
- Chair: Jeroen Lenaers
- Links: Highlights, Video
- Note: This transcript is automated and unofficial, it will contain errors. The transcript was shortened in some places for better comprehensibility.
- Editor: Tim Wurster
Presentation of study „Pegasus and equivalent surveillance spyware and its impact on aspects related to the EU’s external relations“
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): Dear colleagues, good morning and welcome. I propose that we start our meeting here this morning. We have interpretation in German, English, French, Spanish, Hungarian, Polish, Slovakian, Slovenian and Romanian. You all received the agenda for today if there’s no comments. I consider it adopted and I move immediately to the first part of this morning’s meeting, which is the presentation of a study.
It’s the third study that we have requested on Pegasus and equivalent surveillance spyware and its impact on aspects related to the EU’s external relations. And it focuses on the foreign dimension cases of spyware produced in a non-EU country used by non-EU countries or targeting non-EU citizens and examines such situations. The authors are Mr. Richard Youngs, who is a senior fellow at Carnegie Europe in Brussels and the Professor of International Relations at the University of Warwick in the UK, and Mr. Steven Feldstein, who is also a Senior fellow at Carnegie Europe. Mr. Feldstein cannot be with us this morning, but he has sent a recorded video clip of about 5 minutes that you have all received. So, it is well worth well worth to watch it. I think you all received my e-mail last Tuesday; I think. In any case, if you haven’t seen it yet, please do it. It’s quite interesting. But Mr. Young is connected with us, and he will present the study on behalf of both of them.
So, during Mr. Young’s presentation, please indicate if you want to take the floor for the Q&A session so we can already close the speakers list. And having said that, I pass the floor to Mr. Young’s. You have the floor for about 10 minutes.
Professor Richard Youngs : Thank you very much. Good morning. Thank you for the invitation to join you. Indeed. My name is Richard Youngs. I work at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. I was part of a team that prepared a study last year on EU responses to digital authoritarianism. We were asked to update and extend this study to cover the issue of spyware challenges. This update draws mainly on the work of my colleague Steve Feldstein, who’s the Carnegie expert on Spyware. Steve can’t be with us this morning, but I’ll do my best to fill in and give you a broad flavour of some of our findings.
I will cover only the parts related to spyware, but it’s important to stress that this study was part of a broader research on digital authoritarianism, because that is part of our core argument, which is that the spyware problem needs to be understood as one part of this wider trend in digital authoritarianism, which is a profoundly political trend, and it needs to be tackled as such.
The committee has already undertaken exhaustive consultations on internal legal questions, trade related questions. Our remit was slightly different. We were asked to reflect on the wider geopolitics of spyware, the most political dimension. So, I’m aware this is one quite niche area. I’m aware that much ground is already being covered. We’re coming at the end of a long process of the committee’s inquiries. Still, I do think there are some slightly different considerations that we put on the table in our updated report.
One of these is that when we consider the wider geopolitics of spyware, a cross-cutting challenge is this that there is an understandable tendency to look at the spyware issue as a standalone issue. But some of the most complicated policy questions come from how it relates to other EU geopolitical priorities. So that’s one of the central axes of our updated report.
Another slightly distinctive consideration is that trade considerations are clearly the really important dimension and have been at the forefront of the committee’s inquiries. But there are other aspects to other aspects central to the wider foreign policy dimensions of the spyware challenge. These are perhaps received slightly less attention, and these are some of the issues that we seek to examine in our report. As the Chair said, my colleague Steve Feldstein is the real expert on spyware, and Carnegie has sent in a video providing an overview of how spyware is still becoming more prevalent.
The committee has already discussed on a number of occasions some of the measures being taken against individual companies like the NSO Group. But the issue is one that is still gaining prominence within international relations more broadly understood and therefore calls for a wider geopolitical response.
I said our report was actually a report about EU responses to digital authoritarianism more broadly, that we were asked to update for the spyware issue in terms of our general conclusion. We argued that the EU toolbox against digital authoritarianism has improved. It has evolved notably in recent years. But many of the general instruments of the EU’s toolbox relevant to spyware, still have not caught up with the specificities of this challenge. There are still many useful elements of that toolbox that have improved in recent years, but they still need to be tailored more to the specific challenges of Pegasus and equivalent spyware in respect of trade.
Like the committee’s draft report, we do come down in favour of the idea of a moratorium with the argument that the key here would be to use the time that that moratorium lasts to work on tighter standards relating to the global use of spyware. We do also argue, however, that if member States reject this call for a moratorium, they could at least tighten up their external policies in line with the tighter rules that do seem to be emerging on spyware use within the EU itself. They could stipulate that there should be no exports to or imports from states that fail to meet a certain minimum level of political openness and human rights protections. Today, there are good indicators and indices that would enable this to be implemented in a political sense.
We discussed the recast dual use, regulate dual use regulation and argued that they still could be tailored to focus more on stricter enforcement, specifically in relation to spyware, exports, and specifically how these are likely to infringe human rights standards around the world, where, of course, we know that a certain degree of ambivalence currently exists in the regulation, as indeed was covered by the committee’s draft report. And we do stress that separate provisions could be considered for imports as well to match the main focus that has been given so far on export restrictions from EU based providers or subsidiaries.
Crucially, we make the argument that these more tailored provisions at the EU level could and should make an effort to redress the weaknesses of the Wassenaar arrangement. We know that reforms to this have prompted more information sharing and some degree of pressure on export controls. But we all know the weaknesses as well, that these do not carry formal obligations. They don’t prevent imports from non-member non-signatories. If the arrangement doesn’t have a human rights element. There is a major omission. We argue in our report. It hasn’t really generated agreement on which states are states of concern in their use of spyware. And of course, the arrangement still excludes countries like Israel, China and Belarus. So, these are our main conclusions on the trade dimension. And in essence, these echo other submissions that have been made to the Committee on Trade.
We also make an effort, however, to look beyond the trade dimension. There are abusive uses of spyware not involving EU trade, where third country governments are using spyware either against EU citizens or against their own EU citizens. Here, our core argument is that the EU still has to decide how far it is prepared to mainstream spyware concerns within its core international diplomacy. Beyond the question of trade restrictions and private sector actions, many third country governments are using spyware often supplied by other third country providers against the very civil society groups and representatives that the EU itself is funding. We argue that this surely calls for some degree of greater response from the European Union, and this is where we try to relate the spyware challenge to the more general EU toolbox of foreign policy and human rights questions.
We discuss the issue of sanctions. We make the point that the global human rights sanctions regime could be a relevant tool. But at the moment there seems to be a relatively limited willingness on the part of member states to extend the use of this human rights sanction’s regime. The EU so far has been relatively cautious and tepid in its use of punitive measures for much more serious and egregious human rights abuses even than those related to spyware.
So, the prospects for a major use of punitive sanctions may be fairly limited, but we do argue that some more nuanced use of conditionality would seem to be more feasible and reasonable. So, we make the argument that the EU could, for example, step back from direct security cooperation with regimes guilty of the most serious spyware infringements against their own populations. Interestingly, the draft report of the committee proposes this kind of conditionality on funding within the EU to the EU’s own member states. So, what we are proposing is an is an external dimension that would follow on as an extension to this internal use of conditionality and really goes in the same line as that as the committee’s interim draft report. So that’s the issue of conditionality and sanctions.
We also look at the issue of diplomatic dialogue here. The EU has begun to raise spyware issues in its diplomatic dialogues, but so far not in especially tangible ways. So, there could be requirements to bring up issues related to spyware on a more systematic basis and for the EU to report back on how its diplomatic dialogues are actually assisting in tightening up the global use of spyware. The problem here is that human rights concerns related to spyware are not as well codified as other human rights issues are. And this means that these kinds of concerns tend to get brought up less frequently than the more strongly embedded human rights standards. So clearly, there is work to be done there to improve the prospects of spyware issues being brought up as a main consideration within the EU’s core diplomatic dialogues.
Also in our report, we talk about the EU Human Rights Defenders guidelines. These could be used as a vehicle to raise such concerns on a more tailored and assertive basis in a way that links spyware uses very specifically to human rights concerns. So, the HRT guidelines are a vehicle that the EU already has running in most countries that have some degree of traction and success. And they could be updated to incorporate issues specifically related to spyware.
We also make a recommendation that the EU could use the Summit for Democracy process as a way of getting spyware issues more firmly embedded in wider multilateral cooperation that is concerned specifically with the kind of dangers to human rights and democracy that spyware clearly represents. So, the committee knows that. Preparations are underway for a second summit for democracy in March. There is some work underway in these preparations related to spyware and digital technology. But the future of the Summit for Democracy process is somewhat uncertain after the second summit is held in March. And we argue that the EU could support a continuation of the Summit for Democracy process and try to make sure that issues related to spyware become a more core central pillar of the future of this summit for democracy process. So that’s on diplomatic dialogue.
We also talk about national security strategies and make the argument that spyware issues need to be brought in more systematically to the way that national security is defined. Defined as is explicitly, is a more geopolitical issue. Interestingly, other studies commissioned by the European Parliament have already suggested tightening national security definitions of what counts as a legitimate security use of spyware. The committee’s draft report calls for a common EU definition of security to do. This agreement was different. We were asked to look at the foreign policy aspects, but we to argue the same kind of spirit that the draft report proposes could also be taken on board in terms of international security strategies and relations with third countries. So, a tight common EU definition would help specify what is legitimate security cooperation with third countries and to make sure this cooperation in the external dimensions is held to more rigorous democratic accountability.
So, we are looking here for tools that would enable the spyware issue to gain greater traction within the EU’s core foreign policy and argue that this could be brought into a tighter definition of EU security interests. And we also make the argument that the EU is defending democracy package due out for 2023, could also incorporate some of these issues and give a real political impetus to the spyware challenge.
Penultimate issue We talk about funding. More funding related to spyware issues in third countries would represent a more bottom-up approach that would give societies in third countries stronger capacities to fight back, to push back against abusive spyware use themselves. The EU is already funding some embryonic initiatives that are of relevance to the spyware challenge. EU is doing more to provide digital security to civil society actors around the world. But we argue there is scope for a major upgrade in such funding. Interestingly, so far, funding related to spyware is not really a core part of the EU’s external democracy and human rights funding. So, there is scope for a lot more active support, for example, to victims of spyware use and funds for organisations targeted by spyware to help them push back against governments use of this abusive technology. So, a lot to be done on the positive side.
But we also make the argument that the EU should at least make sure that its funding and security cooperation doesn’t actually facilitate the use of spyware by authoritarian security forces. Interestingly, the committee’s draft report does talk about these more negative aspects of external funding. We add to that the focus on the more positive capacity building aspect of aid as well, which is where we believe there is more scope for improvement.
Then final issue, Israel, obviously, the committee has heard a lot about the specific concerns related to Israel. Israeli companies still dominate the global spyware market and closely linked to the IDF. The Ministry of Defence in Israel obviously oversees licensing of spyware in ways that still do not take human rights considerations on board. And we argue that there is scope for the EU to press harder for the ministry to do so. Our distinctive contribution is to place the relations with Israel in a broader geopolitical context. We’re aware that the focus over the last year has been to rebuild relations between the EU and Israel. The first Association Council for eight years was held last year. We are aware that the EU has a range of other security priorities with Israel. Some may say that the EU’s leverage over Israel is finite, and the EU should use that diplomatic leverage mainly on issues related to helping Palestinian rights. So, we are aware of all that complexity in the EU’s relationship with Israel.
But we argue there is still scope to press for quite specific improvements on the human rights related elements of Israeli licensing decisions. And we make the crucial argument, which is this, that the spyware issue, there’s a whole range of human rights issues that need to be addressed in the EU’s relations with Israel, and the spyware issue should be embedded within that bright, broader human rights agenda.
So, I hope that I’ve given the committee a broad flavour of the issues that we take on board from diplomatic dialogue through to sanctions and funding the wide range of the EU toolbox. To conclude our basic line is this that the thorny question is how spyware relates to the EU’s wider geopolitical interests. Spyware, the spyware challenge, however serious it is, it’s not going to side-line all these other geopolitical interests. The challenge really is to how to give the spyware issue more attention. Even if it is not amongst the highest on the list of EU geopolitical priorities.
What we propose here to the committee is that it could be useful to change the way that this issue is framed and frame this as an argument that tackling spyware is not separate from the EU’s strategic interest. It is one of those core strategic interests. Ever since the Ukraine war started, all the EU rhetoric is about its geopolitical interests being defending core democratic and human rights values as a core part of its foreign and security policy.
Obviously, if the EU fails to address these rights implications of spyware, this will undermine the EU’s own geopolitical reasoning, the EU’s own strategic interests and in this sense make the wider geopolitics of spyware much more important. And we believe that this more positive framing in terms of the geopolitics of spyware could be a constructive use to the committee’s work. Thank you very much.
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): Thank you very much, Mr. Youngs, for the very clear and elaborate presentation on all the recommendations you made. I’m sure there’s a lot of questions also in the room, we start with our rapporteur, Sophie in ‚t Veld. Please, any other members who would like to take the floor indicates also we can make the list. Thank you.
Sophie in ’t Veld (Renew): Thank you, Chair. And thank you very much, Mr. Youngs, for your study and the introduction. I think it is full of very good suggestions to take on board in our recommendations in the in the resolution.
But there’s, I have one big question mark because there is a lot that Europe could do if the political will is there. And that is, of course, the big fat elephant in the room, because we see that member states are unwilling to tackle the issue because they themselves want to keep access, a limited access to spyware, and also because they benefit from the trade, not so much in commercial terms, but the trade in spyware is used as a kind of political currency, even in some cases, I would say kind of lubricant in international relations. And that is why they are very reluctant to restrict what we have seen.
In the case of Israel, for example, we see that there are, on the one hand, there always as a first step, government to government contacts. And we see the Greek government, Polish government, Hungarian government, they have contacts with the Israeli government and then and a deal is made. And then the deal is, as it were, taken over by the by the commercial partner. But Israel has used it very much the power to issue licenses in order to make deals with countries on other issues. And, uh, we have seen, let’s say, European countries who are in a in a in a in a much less strong position to do that. But there too, there have been longer time ago allegations of France or the French leadership, let’s say, using this issue in relations with Libya. We see how Cyprus is using its position in the trade of spyware as a as a diplomatic tool. So, you rightfully said it’s not a stand-alone issue. But that is also why it is so difficult to get member states to move.
So, do you have any thoughts on this? Do you have any thoughts on what leverage there is to make member states deliver on their narrative of being a geo, you know, you’re being a geopolitical power and a force for human rights and international law and all the rest of it. Thank you very much.
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): Thank you, Mr. Youngs.
Professor Richard Youngs : Our report doesn’t have a magic wand, but I do agree fully with the spirit of some of these comments, the Chairs comments, that this is not an issue that is one simply of a few technical tweaks to trade regulations and the like, but one of deep geopolitical significance.
I think what we do try to propose is a different way of framing and understanding this spyware issue. The EU has on paper quite a comprehensive definition of security. It does a lot of good work in third countries around the world trying to support societal actors to contribute towards this very comprehensive notion of security. But then that the very narrowly defined trade interests are actually doing a lot of damage to the EU’s own work in trying to generate that broader understanding of security. So, the EU is in prioritising its immediate commercial interests.
It’s guilty, we argue, of a rather narrow, myopic view on these interests that actually sit very uneasily with a lot of the broader political work the EU is doing in those third countries. So, the EU in a way is kind of contradicting its own parameters in the way it defines security. And if we can find a way of flipping that and presenting a broader approach to the spyware issue of one that can actually help the EU’s own geopolitical reasoning, then maybe that helps in a modest way to change that equation in terms of member states political will.
But I mean, we fully agree, and this is core to the argument we make in the update to our report, that this is ultimately an issue of political will in terms of how the EU member states define their core strategic interests. And it needs to be tackled as that. And the case made that this a more assertive way of addressing spyware challenges is core to the EU’s basic strategic interests. It is not simply a question of a few changes to trade regulations. It needs to be understood in this profoundly political way.
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): Thank you, Mr. Youngs. The next one on my list is Saskia.
Saskia Bricmont (Greens): Thank you very much. And good morning to you all. Thank you for your presentation and your study, which is presenting a very comprehensive and useful set of recommendations I think it will usefully feed in our report. Also, this is a dimension that we still need to develop further, I think.
And so, as there are many recommendations and they’re really interesting and also bringing thoughts to me that this would be functioning in an ideal world, right? And because you’re mentioning diplomatic relations, trade’s many aspects, but I would like to know if you have an order of priority, I will say, between those recommendations and which one or which ones would we have to implement first? Would it be reinforcing or export import rules? Would it be us like having a blacklisting process of companies? Maybe you can help us sort out the main points because then we have others that we can develop. But of course, we have also to maybe focus on the main ones.
I would like also to ask you if you have any further information or elements to share with us about the specific cases related, for instance, to Morocco. My colleague has mentioned Israel. I would also like to know if you have any information that you could share with us and the way we could address those specific cases, because again, you mentioned dialogue, diplomatic relations. We were told that there were diplomatic reactions from countries that have been spied on. France, for instance. We don’t really know about Spain and Spanish reactions. But there again, if you have anything to share with us, it would be useful for our work. Thank you very much.
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): And thank you, Mr. Youngs.
Professor Richard Youngs : In terms of priorities. We do recognize that the core trade issues that the committee has been discussing are the priority and we give most attention in the report to those on the moratorium on ways of filling the gaps in the Wassenaar Arrangement and others. But we are aware that the Committee has already heard a lot of presentations, a lot of submissions on these core trade issues where I think we are basically in line with the committee’s draft report on this.
So, our remit was to look a little bit more widely at the more political dimensions, and that’s why I focussed on things like diplomatic dialogue, particularly the funding element, which is where I think the EU could do more to cut in in an indirect way to help build up capacities around the world so that societies can actually push back more effectively than themselves. So that’s yes, the trade issues I think are the priority. That’s where the most tangible, concrete progress can be made in the immediate short term.
But we did want to make this core argument that even if you were to agree on these very, very much needed stringent controls on exports and imports, those in themselves would not be sufficient. A more comprehensive political way of dealing with this challenge is still called for that uses the EU toolbox in all its different dimensions. That’s the remit we were given to look at the EU’s toolbox related to digital authoritarianism in more generally. I know many, many members of the committee have been working on this broader agenda of digital authoritarianism and make sure that those aspects of the toolbox are more integrated related to the EU’s other dimensions, other external actions related to digital technology. So that’s why we talk about the untapped potential that exists to use tools like the various diplomatic dialogues like the Summit for Democracy, like the Human Rights Defenders guidelines. I mean, Hannah and others have been working on very systematically. I think that for us, we see the potential to use tools that are already there. They’re up and running, and that could be tweaked and tailored more specifically to be of some relevance to the spyware challenge. That’s the basic gist of our argument.
But we are basically in line with the committee and its draft report that the real priority is, of course, on the on the trade front, on the that the diplomatic individual cases on the on the diplomatic side. I mean, we’re aware that these this is where the real, really sensitive geopolitics takes place. We do talk about the Morocco example in the report. We don’t have more inside information of what’s going on behind the scenes. But again, the Morocco example is an example of what I was just saying in my answer to the previous question, which is that if we have all the focus on controlling migration from Morocco and other issues do not get raised with Morocco, it is a slightly narrow way of understanding European security interests because the whole pattern of governance in countries like Morocco, it does highlight the roots of all these other security challenges and problems that are being presented to the European Union, whether it be migration or whether it be the use of spyware against European citizens, politicians.
So, at the moment, I think we point to a concern that these kinds of issues, issues related to spyware are getting left off the agenda because the perception is that there are more immediate strategic interests migration, security cooperation, energy cooperation. But the EU cannot hope to put in place a fully comprehensive understanding of security and deal with these priority issues. If it doesn’t look at the underlying governance questions themselves. Are the root causes of why spyware is being used in this rather intrusive fashion.
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): Thank you, Mr. Lebreton.
Gilles Lebreton (Identity and Democracy): Thank you very much, Mr. Youngs, for your comments, which were very clear.
No specific questions as such, but I did want to say that I completely share your analysis from early on this problem with exports of spyware, spyware, software. It’s not just commercial. It’s not just a trade issue. These actually have to do with geopolitics. In other words, some states, some states that are able to export spyware are doing so not just for trade purposes or for commercial purposes. They’re doing it, in fact, because they want to have relations with certain countries and then they want something in return, or they might just want to exert influence around the world. It holds true for France, my own country, manifestly so.
So, France is not the worst of all countries. It has accepted the 1996 of US agreement, and it tries to do something about the issue to make it more put it on a more moral footing. But I have to say it does use these specialised companies, Amesys in particular. So, spyware is being exported. I think it did so quite recently towards Egypt in particular. And then another rather embarrassing illustration. They did authorise also export of spyware to Colonel Gadhafi’s regime in Libya at the time, way back when, but still they authorised that. And we know, of course, that Gadhafi used that instrument in order to terrorise his population. So, it’s not just a technical issue, is what I’m saying. You have to convince the state. You have to convince the states here in the union as well. And you have to really push them to go further in this effort to regulate this particular sector. There is a glimmer of hope, a glimmer of hope in all states, judicial authorities. The judiciary is there. So, if there have been abuses, for instance, exports to Gadhafi’s Libya. Well, you know, in such cases where such incidents were revealed, there was an investigation subsequently. So that’s a glimmer of hope. It means that the law has its place even in this kind of geopolitical situation. And that’s all the more reason for you to continue with your work and for us to do so as well. Thank you.
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): Thank you, Mr. Youngs.
Professor Richard Youngs : I don’t think there was any question that just to say I fully agree, and I think this is a very good way of putting a framing to the problem. And security cooperation against the Middle East is one of the concerns we talk about in our report and the need to tighten up. As I was saying in my presentation of what counts on legitimate forms of security cooperation here is I think this is a this is a serious problem use of spyware, but more in general as well. The security cooperation cutting across many of the other good areas of work that the EU does in the Middle East. And as my colleague Steve Feldstein points out in the video he sent to the committee, this is not a problem that is attenuating, diminishing. It’s becoming more prevalent. So, it’s not just a question of a few companies making commercial activities and commercial gain, but the use of spyware is becoming more systemic on the part of many regimes around the world as one part of the arsenal of very authoritarian means of control that these regimes are using to tighten controls over that population. And we make the argument precisely as is suggested, that this is a profoundly political trend. It’s part of what’s driving this surge of authoritarianism around the world, and it needs to be fully embedded in the way that the EU deals with these challenges related to democracy and the nexus between democracy and geopolitical challenges that the EU is facing.
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): Thank you. All right. Also in the video, if you’re calling in the I think one of the comments he made is that there is more than twice as many autocratic governments around the world that make use of this type of spyware compared to the number of Democratic actors in the world that make use of this kind of spyware is a very concerning statistic. And there are no more rooms from records. I just had one question more of a clarification really. Oh, I’m sorry, Cornelia. I didn’t see, I didn’t see that Cornelia raised her hand.
Cornelia Ernst (Left): Sorry, I thought I didn’t have to report in. Sorry about that, but some thank you very much for your presentation. I’d like to go into a bit more depth. Spyware is a tool of power in the hand of governments. It’s all about power. If I may say, and if you look at democracy, that it varies across the EU. This kind of thing is used against people and against journalists and so on. And we’ve seen how things are. And if you look at the picture now, it begs the question, how are we going to uphold and regulate standards for human rights? Because this kind of software is a little secret, of course. So, there are lots of difficult things for citizens in terms of reacting to all of this. He talks about guidelines, sanctions and diplomatic dialogue. Perhaps you could go into a bit more depth about where you see opportunities in terms of all of this being better used and then security cooperation with third countries. Are we looking at banning certain categories of cooperation here?
So, I would like to know what you see in terms of possible bans of spyware and what kind of conditions would be attached. Because we need to talk about those issues, the extent of a possible general acceptance of spyware. And we have doubts about the spyware. We’re talking about being justified in terms of everything that we’re looking at here in relation to software.
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): And apologies for not giving you the floor immediately. Mr. Youngs.
Professor Richard Youngs : In terms of positive opportunities, there aren’t so many. I mean, this is still a very serious and negative challenge that the EU has to push back against. But we did our best to think creatively of it in embryonic processes and two parts of the toolbox that might be used positively. That’s why we talk a lot about the Summit for Democracy. There is a whole what’s called a cohort of work under the summit of democracy that is related to tech digital issues, including spyware. Nothing very concrete so far, but it is at least the beginnings of a process, an opportunity to link the committee’s work on spyware with this broader multilateral cooperation between Democratic states and their concerns to use the Summit for Democracy process as a way of pushing back more generally against the global authoritarian surge.
So, we do make a case that that is one example of a positive and possibly positive opportunity. The future of the Summit for Democracy process is in doubt at the moment. After the second summit, as I’m sure members of the committee know, the US has indicated that it will not continue to lead the process. So, there may be a case there for the EU stepping forward together with some Member States to lead the process, or at least a part of the process that could be tailored specifically towards multilateral cooperation on spyware related challenges. The process of the Summit for Democracy is at least begun to act as a kind of catalyst for greater recognition of these kind of challenges. And crucially, crucially, the fact that the EU itself cannot deal with these issues at the global level without deeper, more effective, systematic, systematic cooperation with other democratic nations.
So, this is an agenda that is important for the EU, but one that needs to be multilateralist globalised as well as the beginnings of an opportunity there. But if the EU and other democratic nations don’t take that opportunity more in a more kind of concrete way, that that summit process could begin to run into the sands and be lost very, very soon. Another potential opportunity would be the Defence for Democracy package. This looks to be a slightly more comprehensive approach to shoring up democratic values than we’ve seen from the EU in the past, and there may be scope there to harness the committee’s work on spyware to this broader Democratic agenda as well.
So, if members read through that, the report will try to be very realistic and concrete in saying these are the used parts of the EU’s toolbox that already exist, there has been improvement in elements of this toolbox. They’re not perfect. Still a lot of work to be done, but in a concrete way, these are the at least partial opportunities that the committee could perhaps seize and harness to take forward the work on cooperate on spyware, specifically the question of security. I mean, I don’t think we’ve been as we wouldn’t argue that all security cooperation is going to end. But clearly, tight boundaries, parameters need to be drawn. And we would say at least they need to be firmer. EU rules on that do no harm principle and that the EU isn’t actually facilitating or promoting use of spyware for immediate security objectives that then in the longer term proves to be damaging. I know that’s an argument that has been made in many submissions to the committee. We back it up, but crucially we back it up in terms of this being an issue that needs tightening up, not just within European EU member states, but also. Core part of EU foreign and security policy as well.
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): Thank you, Róża Thun.
Róża Thun und Hohenstein (Renew Europe): You know, this is when you talk about this summit for democracy and what we should learn as Pegasus committee or European Parliament proposed the then the summit for democracies in the end of March. Yeah, we are still working. And frankly speaking, of course, it’s extremely valuable what you say. And I fully agree that we should go in this direction, but we have not agreed yet. As far as the European Union is concerned, how should we control the services that use the spyware? And everybody agrees that such a body is absolutely necessary. In fact, with everybody we spoke of, specialists, victims, etc., everybody demands such a body. We don’t have one yet within the European Union that we should create something common or some rules and regulations with the so to say, outside world, outside of the European Union, prepare something for the for March. We should really take it very seriously on board with what you’re saying. I wonder in how far it is realistic.
I am also thinking about what you are saying about compensation for victims, which should also be a rule. If there are victims, they should be compensated. But the victims outside of the union and inside the laws in the outside world, I don’t know what would compensate them and how we can have influence on it. And inside there are millions of questions. But do you see as realistic that we can really have some influence on this or start creating a common policy until March this year?
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): Mr. Youngs.
Professor Richard Youngs : I think it’s realistic to aspire to that. But just to clarify, I wasn’t arguing that the committee or the EU should have some kind of fully resolved finalised agenda by March, but simply that the summit for democracy is a process and I think it’s important we do make the argument that it’s important to keep that process going. If someone doesn’t step forward to find a creative way of keeping the process going, the danger is it will die in March if the US doesn’t continue to offer to lead a further summit where there are.
There are a lot of sceptics about the Summit for Democracy process, whether it’s really very concrete, whether it’s just a talking show, but at a lower level there’s a lot of useful work being done within these thematic cohorts. There’s one of these that is related to the committee’s work, and we argue that it’s at least worth exploring carrying this on as a process over the longer term. That does not mean that one is going to have a fully it’s realistic to have a fully developed definitive agenda by March, simply that there’s a process there that could be used over the longer term and that if there is and related to service, first question, if the political will is not invested to keep this going, then the useful, more technical work that’s being done behind the scenes, it risks evaporating and that very fragile momentum risks being lost.
That’s the essence of us of our argument, fully taking on board the fact that the committee has a lot of other issues related to the internal dimension that were beyond the remit of our report. There’s a lot of different dimensions to this. Time is sure there’s a lot of other priorities, but we do argue this is in essence, this is a problem that is not going to go away. It’s becoming more serious. So, in the back of the committee’s work, it’s important to think about longer term processes that can help develop wider international standards and momentum over the longer term. Not that everything is going to be resolved by March or April, but the committee helps the EU think in this longer-term perspective.
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): Thank you very much. And I have just my final question or maybe request for clarification because you spoke and also in the recommendation you speak about the moratorium. This is one of the topics where there is some political division also here in this House. And I just want to ask you very clearly what it is you recommend in the study, because you recommend that the EU should give serious consideration to a moratorium on both the export and import of spyware. But you also referred to the call by Ohc, H.R. and other stakeholders to have a moratorium on seal transfer and use of hacking tools. And you also say that that is a highly justified action.
So, do you propose a moratorium on import export? Do you also propose or recommend a moratorium on the use? And is hacking tools related to Pegasus and equivalent spyware or hacking tools as a as a general group of tools to be used because that might lead to some differences of interpretation. And we will have debates about this later in this room. So just if you if you could clarify that maybe.
Professor Richard Youngs : We do advocate both, but I have to say that the work on the hacking is more from my colleague Steve Feldstein. We can get him to input more detail on that. But we suggest this. I mean, but both the import and the export and on the hacking use as what we would consider to be the best solution. But we are aware that political differences exist. They’ve been exposed in the in the committee’s discussions. That’s why we think through kind of second and third best solutions. If a moratorium were not to be supported politically by member states, we make the case very strongly in the report, but we also look for alternative ways of tightening up, for example, on the human rights and democracy standards of providers and users. So, we try and work through different scales of solutions to the to the problem.
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): Great. Thank you very much. If there’s no further questions, I would like to thank you, Mr. Youngs, and also your colleague, Mr. Feldstein, for the study. We will, of course, continue to study it in greater detail. But also thank you for taking the time to speak to us today. And to answer all of a question I think was very interesting, as very important for our work in this committee. And we’d also like to invite you to continue to keep an eye on the work of the committee and proactively get involved should you see the need to. So, thank you very much for your work. It was very interesting. Thank you.
Then I say we take 5 minutes while we connect the speakers for the next panels, and we start at 10:10.
Okay, we have some problems with the connection, so it’s taking it a little bit longer, but we’ll get there in the end.
Okay for for a Dutch person to be compared to the German railways has certainly stimulated me to start the meeting now. But we have, if ever, connected, so we can already start. And with Mr. Wojtunik, we are trying to improve the connection. But I hope we can have it up and running by the time he gets the floor.
So the next point on our agenda is the reporting back from the Pega mission to Poland on the 19th and 21st of September 2022. This mission was our second fact finding mission of the Pega Committee after Israel in July 2022. We met with various persons to gather information about spyware, including members of the Polish Senate’s Extraordinary Committee on Pegasus, members of the CEM, representatives of the Supreme Audit Office and the Ombudsman Office. We also heard from judges. We focus on judicial control of surveillance. We heard from experts on Poland’s security services. We met with victims of spyware to hear their testimonials and interacted with representatives of NGOs and civil society, journalists and other experts.
Now, the mission allowed us to take stock of the situation in Poland and to discuss reports of illegal use of surveillance. As you are well aware, we also tried to meet with the minister of the Interior, with the Minister of Justice, as well as with the Polish Central Anti-Corruption Bureau, the bureau that is using the spyware. But no government representative wanted to meet with us.
Now, we said, and I quote this from a press statement after the mission. Just to to refresh your memories that we had a series of food for meetings which shed light new light on the illegal use of intrusive surveillance against democratic actors in Poland, we see that the system of legal and institutional checks and balances has been dismantled to enable targeting individuals deemed as political opponents with military grade cyber weapons. As a result, crucial democratic standards and citizens rights enshrined in EU and Polish laws have been grossly violated. This is yet another dimension of the crisis of the rule of law in Poland.
And we condemned and I repeat this today as well. We condemn the refusal of the government of Poland to cooperate with the committee. However, this does not discourage us from continuing our inquiry and preparing recommendations which will help safeguard EU citizens against abuse of intrusive surveillance tools. Those were our conclusions.
After the mission, it’s been now four months since we went to Poland, we have invited some guests to give us an update of the situation of the past four months. We will first hear from Ewa Wrzosek, who we also met in Poland during our mission, who is a prosecutor and a victim of Pegasus. She is remotely connected and we are also trying to improve, like I said, the connection with the former head of the anti-corruption bureau in Poland, Mr. Pavel Wojtunik. Unfortunately, Martin was actually who is the chair of the Senate Extraordinary Committee on Pegasus would have liked to be here, but he had to cancel yesterday due to unforeseen circumstances. So we will start with Russia. It’s a great pleasure to meet you again in the context of our committee, and I happily give you the floor for about 10 minutes to give us an update of developments in the past four months. Thank you very much.
Ewa Wrzosek (Prosecutor and Victim of Pegasus): Oh shit. Uh, hello?
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): Yes, hello. The microphone was already on. So your introduction was legendary.
Ewa Wrzosek (Prosecutor and Victim of Pegasus): Okay. Good morning. In the past four months, if something has changed, it has changed only for the worse, as far as I’m concerned personally. What was revealed by me, thanks to my determination, as well as to the determination of Citizens Lab, so spying, using Pegasus on my phone, all this was confirmed. And the original prosecutor’s office started a case against me in Stettin based on, uh, some content from my device. I am now charged with revealing information, for example, from the cases I was leading. And I’m also being charged with being involved in political activity. I deny all this. The prosecutor’s office does not provide access to documents. I am not able to defend myself properly. There is also a request to lift, to waive my immunity. And this is the first step to the potential indictment and removing me from the position of prosecutor.
And so since this is happening right now in Poland, in Poland, to the political electoral campaign has de facto started and I am also being charged with being involved in political activity with the purpose of have some influence and support on one of the politicians. Uh, it is about the President of Warsaw. So, all this is happening to eliminate me from the public life in Poland to manipulate me and to discredit me. But there is also the political rationale. And the general prosecutor, Ziobro, the Minister of Justice, is also behind this. And this is the way he approaches and fights with his enemies. This is what he is capable of. And he wants everyone to know that this is all for his own political interests, too.
And as far as the Pegasus software is concerned, too, in Poland, too, we have no legal basis whatsoever for the use of Pegasus. And in January, the Polish Ombudsman sent a letter to the Minister of Internal Affairs, Mr. Kamiński. And, uh, by the way, he didn’t want to meet you. Mr. Kamiński didn’t want to meet your delegation. And in this letter, referring to the case law of the Polish Constitutional Court, as well as the European Court in Luxembourg, European Human Rights Court, the Ombudsman proves and says that in Poland there is no legal basis for the use of Pegasus or similar spyware or similar software.
On top of that, Mr. Wiącek, the Polish Ombudsman, showed that the regulation in force allows, unfortunately, for the use of evidence, which is obtained illegally. And these can be used in criminal cases. And is quite important because based on Polish regulations the operational surveillance can be applied only in the case of the most serious crimes and what is more, these crimes are listed are specified in the Polish regulations on the operation of different services that can avail themselves of this operational surveillance. These are listed crimes, if you like, crimes that are specified in the concrete legislation and in the Polish Criminal Law Code. There is a provision which says, and I would like to quote this. So it says that in a situation where there was illegal operational surveillance, of course, independently of whether it was Pegasus or something else, then Article 168 of the Polish Criminal Code says that even though during this legal surveillance authorised by court, even if evidence was obtained to prove for other crimes, so other crimes which were the beginning of the case.
So if other crimes are revealed, then this evidence can be used in criminal cases. And this is quite significant. And the very fact that the rules say that this operational surveillance, may refer only to the most serious crimes which pose a threat to the public order, this becomes illusionary because operational surveillance by the sheer fact that we can use evidence that points to other crimes and to the fact that this may be illegal use to and to and may be used in concrete cases. This even makes those illicit evidence that refer to other crimes other than illicit crimes. All this evidence can be used in criminal cases. And to in fact, the decision to use this evidence depends on the prosecutor. The general prosecutor in Poland is a politician, he is at the same time, the minister of justice. And among the Europe commission, the recommendations on the rule of law for 2022, one of the top recommendation was to separate the position of the general prosecutor from the position of the minister of Justice, because Poland, too, is the only member state of the EU where there is no such separation. And I’m talking, of course, about Zbigniew Ziobro. And in a situation whereby Ziobro decides whether operational surveillance may be conducted in a given case because it is he who requests from the court a consent to and then the services submit to such requests. And he also overlooks everything he decides on technical means used in the operational surveillance.
So now we are talking, for example, also about Pegasus, and it is he who decides about the use of evidence, which is results of this operational surveillance where Pegasus was used to also illegally. This may be used to in the criminal case that this material, this evidence may be used. I’m the best example of this. A person who committed no crime but who is happens to be a person who criticises him personally, criticises his operations as a general prosecutor general. This is quite important because, as you said to the in Poland, to all control mechanisms of scrutiny was switched off, if you like, because all these controls, all these checks are in the hands of a single person.
So, this is a very difficult situation, dangerous situation, and it is even more dangerous because following the letter by the Ombudsman, Mr. Wiącek, the letter was sent to Mariusz Kamiński , the Minister of Internal Affairs. The Ombudsman received a reply saying that the principle of the principle regulating the operation of services will not change and the same procedures will be applied when obtaining such information. So there is no conclusions drawn, there is no lessons learned to. But consistently the authorities stick to violating their law. They violate procedures. And in the said letter by the Ombudsman the Ombudsman also talks about the fact that taking into account the current legal situation in Poland, there is no legal basis whatsoever for the legal. Use of Pegasus software because of its technical possibilities. Mass the possibilities of mass surveillance taking control of the whole life, their surroundings. Thanks to Pegasus, it is possible to obtain an information, also information which is confidential. In the case of lawyers, etc.. So this situation is very dangerous. And in particular, we have to remember that the head of services that the services that use such devices. Very often these are people who were sentenced to who were who are charged with illegally obtaining requests from the courts in order to use this kind of this kind of procedure. I don’t know what else I can say. Most likely you will have questions, sir, but to close, I would like to say once again in the poll, under the Polish legal system, there is no legal basis whatsoever to use tools such as Pegasus and similar software, which may be applied by different services and to. We know that this is used to it is not verified. And this is so this is the use of this software is so contrary to the Polish law, is contrary to the EU law and contrary to the case law of the court and in Luxembourg and the Human Rights Court. Thank you.
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): Thank you. Thank you very much, Ms. Wrzosek. We are going to see if the connection with Mr. Wojtunik is okay and then we. Yes, let’s hope for the best. You have also the floor for 10 minutes to give us an update.
Paweł Wojtunik (Former head of the anti-corruption bureau in Poland): Hello.
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): Yes we can hear you and we can see you. And you have about 10 minutes to make your presentation.
Paweł Wojtunik (Former head of the anti-corruption bureau in Poland): Thank you very much. Sorry for our technical problems. I will use Polish language if you allow me.
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): Of course.
Paweł Wojtunik (Former head of the anti-corruption bureau in Poland): Unfortunately, I couldn’t hear what the persecutor Wrzosek said. However, as the former head of central Anti-Corruption office in years 2009 until 2015, I would like to turn your attention to some additional aspects and threats resulting from illegal and unbased, unproportional use of operational control, in particular phone and eavesdropping as a risk for democracy.
You cannot treat this case of Pegasus without the wider context of what happened in the past in years 2000, five, 2007, or even 2005 until 2009, when the heads of the Anti-Corruption office were the current coordinators of special services. And I’m thinking about Minister Kaminsky and Minister Wąsik.
Well, in these years in a central anti-corruption office, there were numerous irregularities confirmed not only by my audits, which I ran as the head in of the office in 2009 and 2010, but confirmed by special committees of the Polish Parliament, which were established to analyse the operational methods use and to pressure used in cases of political origin.
Finally, the issues were examined by the then independent Public Prosecutor’s Office and these issues and accusations were sent to the court. And I am thinking about scandals such as, for example, the very well known „Land gate“ in Poland, actions against former vice Prime Minister Lepper against him and his political group full exceeding for going beyond the operational limits the current ministers. And then at that time the heads of the central Anti-Corruption Office was sentenced by court in the first instance.
Later and after the elections in 2015, they were granted a favour by the President, and they were given supervision over a Polish as systems of vigilance for the very post which for which they were criticised to earlier, the irregularities and abuse of power. It was used in phone eavesdropping and they referred also to a case against the former Polish president, Mr. Kwaśniewski and his wife. Political cases and political procedures against Mrs. Savitska from the platform, civil platform, and these irregularities were confirmed by the Public Persecutors office, which started procedures and which procedures, and that in court these pathologies were not punished because there was no political will at that time and to punish persons. At that time there were some procedures launched against the current general prosecutor and the Minister of Justice and Mr. Ziobro. However, these issues have never been finally closed.
Why do I say I mention these gates and the current use of Pegasus have the same factor illegal, unproportional use of technical means to collect data sensitive data, in particular data of discussions, of talks, phone conversations, and the persons who are being controlled are political opponents or other people who are considered a threat to and ministers of the government. And we have two extreme cases.
On the one hand, it is a fact because it was confirmed above and the doubt that Pegasus was used against the head of opposition campaign had to Mr. Brejzas. And this is political context purely. But we also have a context of personal revanche. And the example here is Mrs. Wrzosek, whom you’ve just heard. Why cannot we discuss these two separately? Well, because it’s a repetition of various schemes which took place in years 2005 until 2009 in the Central Anti-Corruption Office of the Time, run by Mr. Kamiński and Mr. Wąsik. What happened since then?
Well, since then, the system of operational control use was not only made more tight, but additional regulations were introduced which result in that there is an additional willingness, willingness on the part of politicians to use the operational control, in particular to listen to phones for their political activity. So when I was the head of CBA in years 2009 until 15, never ever, we gave information on the issues to any politicians, even though formerly prime minister was the head of CBA, to supervise.
What happens since then? Since when I left the anti-corruption office and the function was taken by Ministers Kamiński and Maciej Wąsik and the general persecutor. Because I would like to say that Ziobro, the public prosecutor was always was, has also been involved in the cases, and he was also suspected of breaching the law in the function of the public prosecutor in 2009 until 2009.
Well, two new legal solutions were introduced and the general proecutor can offer any information according to his own will from the preparatory procedures which gives rise to the abuse of information for political reasons. And the information can be forwarded to media and favourable to the government.
And after 2015, after I was forced to leave, the scope of competences of personal rights of ministers Kaminsky and Wąsik werde added. So that is the new solution. So they have new competences and even Prime Minister did not have the right previously at paragraph six in the Regulation was added to say that coordinators, that is the Foreign Minister, as I mentioned, are entitled to demand information, including secret information and confidential information analysis and periodic reports concerning individual cases, all types of cases from heads of special services.
Now third thing was done within one week, the heads of all special services were replaced, including me, myself as head of the anti-corruption office. Because this. A solution would not be sufficient for the new authorities to get the information they wanted. So the legal system was changed on purpose in such a way that it enables unlimited entry with impunity, access to coordinators of special services that is now Minister of Internal Affairs Administration Kamiński and von Wąsik acts to have access to all details of all operational procedures. Now the public persecutor can also legally, in accordance to the law and disclose such details according to his will. We have a huge risk that there will be an unjustified abuse use of sensitive data collected in operational control.
Why do I say it? Well, both a high commission and a journalist in Poland, but also representatives of political groups have confirmed that the Central Administrative Office confirmed that Poland bought Pegasus and the use of the system, apart from risks related to the leak of information to special services, gives a risk of manipulation and abuse of information and the use of such information in an illegal way. Because such facts have also been shown, The use of short text messages used by by Mr. Brejza was published.
Finally, there was impunity offered to the highest officials who can have such access and who can use such data. When I was head of central Anti-Corruption Office in years 2009 until 15 and I was the longest person there, the head of such services responsible for anti-corruption, for combating corruption, there was no discussion of illegal any operational control whatsoever and never, ever. And the information would not get to the political level. Information from such controls could be sent only to preparatory procedures which were secret, and the general persecutor had no possibility to use such information for his own political purposes. And you can see, based on precedents of recent years, this is the case now. No politicians finally beat coordinators or prime ministers in my time had the right to get from the head of the services and the head of services of any such services and the details about operational actions.
Now, you cannot consider the issue without the context of irregularities. In 2005 until 2007, because, as I said, the scandal for which I listed were based on building and on looking for evidence for political opponents, against political opponents. And that was confirmed not only by investigations, but I know information from agents from Mr. Thomas Kaczmarek, who, owing to his participation in those political provocations, was actually promoted to buy a peace by the Law and order by Minister Kamiński and by the former national prosecutor, Mr. Srikant Kosky, who was on the same electoral list, this Kaczmarek and these two and got political roles. They are in the Polish parliament and I have confirmation also from him obtained as a result of a number of discussions that he was at the origin of Pegasus.
So he was used beat with his agreement or upon an audit of the Central Anti-Corruption Commission. He was used to find any information inconvenient for the Opposition and his actions were actually aimed to cause operational situations which would later justify opening such operational control.
Finally, he took part was the knowledge and consent of the head of the anti-corruption office would passing on the information to befriended friends in media. So we have a situation of the pathology which developed in the future, and some cases have not been settled, not been clearly discussed and persons responsible for investigations or supervision, were advance promoted. And they had even higher competencies and limited access to materials which are sensitive to documents which are sensitive. And now they have the highest functions in Poland And the mechanisms of forwarding information as a result of control operation of Pegasus are now practically identical as the very pathologies which I saw in years 2005, 2006 and 2009, when the office was managed by Kamiński and Wąsik.
I would like to mention also some elements confirming the abuse of power, which at that time perhaps were not a breach of law, but they showed the pathological approach to information obtained as a result of operational control well beyond any doubt. And this was confirmed by the Parliamentary Investigation Committee, the vice head of the CBA, Mr. Wąsik, about 7000 times without any justification and without any reason or cause whatsoever logged into the operational system, technical system, which registered the operational controls from some I control. It’s difficult to imagine technically if you think about the scale and the number of such logins. And it has also been confirmed that before 2009, billings of one of journalists who was not in favour of the CBA were collected. The last person who had the billings on his office was one of the heads of CBA anti-corruption office. And so CBA lost a case in the court because these billings should have been destroyed but never, ever in the documents of the anti-corruption office were found. And these billings belong to one of the journalists of the board, to which was an opposition newspaper.
This shows the scale of breach and breaches and information which can be collected by Pegasus. And this goes way beyond the definition of methods to which can be used by the Polish government combating organised corruption, all crimes, the scale of Pegasus and the possibility of this office. It goes way beyond the operational control which have been defined previously. And regardless of how unconstitutional is the scope of information collected, how deeply they can interfere with individual freedoms. I think it’s a scandal that one of the greatest threats is how the information is stored, how the information can be used for political reasons by media, by the government.
I mentioned the pathologist irregularities in years 2005 2006 until nine. We had evidence, the prosecutor’s office had evidence that these cases were inspired politically, and this was purely political revenge. And I would like to say that the persecutors that and the public persecutors have not found a and the reason to persecute questioning to the. An Agent Kaczmarek of the time was the main political agent used undercover. And unfortunately for some of the breaches of the law, he has not been punished. And the head of CBA and he’s Al and his vice deputy Swan, whenever taken to the courts. Actually, they were, but one of the case was closed. None of the cases has finally been explained except for the confirmation of provocation against the Vice Prime Minister Leopard, which ended up in a verdict in the first instance because Mr. Fong, she was sentenced to ten years and Mike Cummins convicted, was sentenced to ten years of prison and other persons responsible for the work. The operational work. I believe it’s a great loss. It’s an error. Yes. And the case has not been explained. Pathologists have not been punished.
Interpreter : Unfortunately, the connection is not good enough to interpret from it.
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): I’m sorry, Mr. Wojtunik. There’s a small problem with your connection. And I would like to thank the interpreters, even though there are technical issues that they manage to to interpret it in. In all the languages. I know it’s not easy. And we really appreciate the fact that you made the effort to still do it and to allow us to to hear Mr. Wojtunik presentation. I’m looking also at the time I propose that we start with the Q&A. Please indicate if you would wish to take part in it, and we hope that we can improve the connection of Mr. Wojtunik. In the meantime, we start with our rapporteur, Sophie in ‚t Veld.
Sophie in ’t Veld (Renew): Thank you, Chair. And I would like to thank our two guests. Just a few random or questions in a random order.
To Ms. Wrzosek, I would like to know you are the only one who has been successful in launching a legal complaint. You’re the only one who actually managed to get a court case launched. Can you say something about the. The state of play? Where are we in the procedure?
And then secondly, and I’m not sure if I if I understood correctly or not, but are you aware of any further, um, further spyware attacks on you in recent months? Do you have the impression that that is still ongoing?
Third question You refer to correspondence between the Ombudsman and Mr. Kamiński. Is that correspondence, is it public? Is it accessible? Could we get it then to Mr. Wojtunik? I’m sorry if I massacre your in your name or.. Oh, Róża says it’s fine. Um. Uh, yes, I was wondering if you are aware because everybody is, is has been talking about Pegasus so far, but we know that there are various other spyware products that are being sold inside and outside Europe. And I would be particularly interested if you are aware of spyware products that have been shipped from a company in Cyprus called Intellexa Technologies to another company in Poland called Variant, and we’re talking about 2013. Um, uh, apparently there’s been an export licence from Cyprus and surveillance technologies may have been shipped to or sold to Poland. Are you aware of something like that? Thank you.
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): Thank you. Sophie. We passed the floor to Ewa Wrzosek.
Ewa Wrzosek (Prosecutor and Victim of Pegasus): When it comes to that case where I’m a victim? This case started because they had no other choice. The Court devised to open this case. And the court also instructed to carry out procedures, for example, checking whether I was a target of surveillance by authorities. The court also asked for an expert opinion by Citizens Lab, as well as checking my device by experts. Unfortunately, in that case, everything that the prosecutor does all its activities is aimed at getting my phone.
However, I also requested for this analysis to be formalised and this request was rejected. I requested for this analysis to be carried out by citizen lab experts or those you talked to in Poland, and you received analysis from them. Unfortunately, the prosecutor rejected this request, even though the court instructed us to do so, and said the prosecutor also selected his own his own expert to.
However, this expert will not be able to link it, to link and and to link it to Pegasus. And only some people, for example, from Citizen Lab, Amnesty International, are able to do that and link link it to Pegasus. So a citizen knowing that citizen had been dealing with this, I provided to and provided my phone for the purpose of analysis. But I did it privately. And the prosecutor also rejected the activity that was ordered by the court. And the court instructed the prosecutor to check whether I was the target of Pegasus led surveillance. The court decided that this is inadmissible.
So in general, all the procedures and all the activities under this case where I’m a victim, all is boiling down to the third. Further surveillance of surveillance targeted at me. My phone calls are checked. And the prosecutor also approached the telecom operator to provide any data related to my phone, including phone calls for the current period, not for the period where my device was compromised. But I am being checked right now. My phone calls are being checked, analysed for the current period. This is incomprehensible and I appealed from this decision with the court and I wait for my request to be processed.
So I do not feel like a victim here. The victim that should be held to by the authorities, by the prosecutor. But quite to the contrary, I am still being surveilled. And I think that this procedure is aimed at providing additional evidence which could be used against me. I do not have any other information on whether I am now being targeted by spyware.
However, the procedure, which is aimed at waiving my immunity and I was also suspended. I didn’t mention that I was suspended as a prosecutor. I was removed from my cases now for six months. However, under the Polish law, there is no upper limit. There is no deadline for this kind of suspension. So in this procedure, under this case, I do not want I do not know what operational methods have been used, what tools have been used, because I do not and do not have access to the files. The prosecutor is saying that the investigation is confidential. However, they still use all the contents. To all this material from the investigation. They still use this in their contacts with the public television where information is broadcast from the investigation. Very often this is information that discredits me, which accuses me falsely of a crime. And at the same time, I am not I do not have access to the files. Even though there are charges against me.
But what is more evident in this investigation, they use evidence material which is obtained using Pegasus. This is about events from 2020, from two years ago, and I do not really know based on what evidence I am being charged to. But these are charges which are politically, politically induced politically. These are political charges. And I think that the minister, Ziobro, is involved in that, too. When it comes to the letter by the Ombudsman to the Minister of Internal Affairs. This is a public document. It is the document was published on the the Ombudsman Ombudsman website and I can provide you with the links. But this document is public in the public domain and everyone can get acquainted with this letter. There is a very professional rationale by Mr. of the Ombudsman, but on the other hand, to me we have to remember that the authorities, the Minister of Internal Affairs, is denying everything, but the previous speaker has talked about that as well. Thank you.
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): Thank you. And then we hear from Mr. Wojtunik.
Paweł Wojtunik (Former head of the anti-corruption bureau in Poland): Is the connection better? Now, if I understand, the question was about some spyware from the UK. I know nothing about that as far as I know. The first such invasive software is Pegasus. I can say that I was head to head of the centre in the corruption office. I frequently received foreign offers to purchase various software spyware mainly related to monitoring of persons suspected of various criminal activities. These were frequently offered by Israeli entities, regardless of the scope of the supervision control by Polish, which was beyond what was allowed by Polish law. There were no guarantees that the data collected as a result of using such software would be infeasible for foreign services, which simply resulted in a risk to show to foreign services information about the services. We should get information.
Interpreter : I’m sorry the quality is not good enough to interpret.
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): I’m sorry, Mr. Wojtunik. There are problems with the connection which make it at the moment not possible for the interpreters to interpret into other languages. I’m not sure if it’s possible for you to to make brief comments in English as well. And if not, we have to see if we can restart the connection to to try and improve it.
Paweł Wojtunik (Former head of the anti-corruption bureau in Poland): I can try to do it in English. So from my the best knowledge I have I never heard about software from Cyprus mentioned by by your member of parliament. So 2013. In those times I was also head of anti-corruption service. We used to use different tools and technologies but never so dangerous, invading. So. So. Like. Like, like Pegasus. But I have no idea about this. This Cyprus equipment.
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): Thank you. Yes, we could. We could hear you. Well, and we will try maybe to improve the connection during the question of the next speaker. And then hopefully we can go back to speaking in your native tongue and interpreting here for the colleagues present. We move to Bartek Arłukowicz on behalf of the EPP.
Bartosz Adam Arłukowicz (European People’s Party): Thank you very much for this opportunity. I will start with Madam Wrzosek. I hope she can hear me.
Madam Prosecutor, I have three questions. The last case When it comes to the dismissal of the original prosecutor from Gdansk, he allegedly revealed information where it was which prove that Pegasus was used to. You know this case. Do you have some opinion on that? On this dismissal.
And the second question, the charges against you, the charges that refer to referred to in your presentation, your alleged contacts and to favours with the President of Warsaw and do you think Pegasus was used here.
And the third question is, since we don’t know where all this data obtained by way of Pegasus is located right now, who is in the possession of this information, What services are in the possession of this data? Maybe we could charge these who are in the possession of all this data with espionage. Our regulations say that those who provide sensitive data to other services can be charged even with espionage. Do you think it’s possible?
And the question to Mr. Wojtunik, you’re the head of the anti-corruption office. If I understood you correctly, you said that Mr. Wąsik from the Ministry of Internal Affairs, who used to be a vice head, the deputy head of Anti-Corruption Bureau. And is it true that he logged in thousands of times to illegal wiretaps? Did I understand it correctly? Can you confirm this? Deputy Head of Anti-Corruption Bureau logged in thousands of times to illegal wiretaps. Can you confirm this?
And the second question to you. You were the head of anti-corruption bureau. There were proposals to use different spyware. Did you ever decide to to purchase and spyware where the end to data would and to God knows, were depending on what the country of the vendor was? Did you have information showing that the services of three countries use the data obtained by way of Pegasus, or do you have some information on this kind of exchange? Do you think that materials from the wiretaps from Poland could end up in Russia with the Russian special services? Would it be possible, as the former head of anti-corruption bureau, you would be able to answer this question?
And the last question also to Madame Wrzosek. Do you think that there is also the possibility of the charges of espionage in the event that such data was provided was was moved to a foreign service?
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): Ms. Wrzosek, please.
Ewa Wrzosek (Prosecutor and Victim of Pegasus): On the first question by Mr. Arłukowicz. And to this new situation, the original prosecutor in Gdansk resigned to because, according to the media, he revealed by mistake a request to launch operational control, which was moved by anti-corruption Bureau against Senator Brejza. And in this request, the tool for operational control was supposed to be Pegasus.
I would like to say that the operational surveillance control conducted in Poland to only to a very small extent. Only to a very small extent. This material is used to in the cases are run by prosecutors. And then the prosecutor would submit this information, this material to the court. So there is this grey area where where these materials are used to are used against two people who didn’t even know that they were a target or of surveillance. And all this material never formally reaches prosecutors there at the disposal of the services. And the rules say that in that event they should be deleted, destroyed.
However, in a case where we are dealing with the electronic evidence, uh, uh, this material, which is not formally a part of case and the deletion of this electronic evidence is a fiction. We do not destroy computers. Servers sold this material were services, say, because services are very often a try to convince us that they deleted everything or destroyed everything. This is this is just a matter of faith, whether we should believe them or not. However, once this material is used in the case run by prosecutors, then these materials become become public.
So even those material, which was boss by mistake, revealed by this prosecutor in Gdansk that they should be public non-confidential, including the request that by Anti-Corruption Bureau for Operational Control, but also the fact that this control was carried out using Pegasus. But it became a scandal because the law enforcement in Poland prosecutor’s office, different services are not able to confirm and they deny by any means available. They deny the fact that they operate operational, that for operational controls, even those requested by courts for operational controls, this tool is used. So they didn’t deny the fact that for these purposes they use Pegasus. And this is one of the reasons for this scandal. There was no procedural problems issues.
However, in that case, for the very first time ever, a document leaked which says that Pegasus was used. So on the one hand we have the surveillance of politician, political opponent, senator in the Polish Senate, which is quite bizarre because Mr. Brejza is not charged with any crime. He was not charged with anything with any actions against the Polish state. But on the other hand, too, we know that Pegasus entered the picture here, and I think this is the greatest irregular irregularity, the greatest abuse, and they are trying to make the use of Pegasus invisible. They want to hide the fact that the authorities use Pegasus against people such as the Senator, Mr. Giertych, and myself, and to the use of Pegasus illegally under the Polish legal order.
When it comes to my case, there is no doubt that all this material, which is released by the Regional Prosecutor’s Office from stretching to the media, I do not have access to this material. So everything that is in the press release or which is released to the public television, all this material is used to manipulate it using Pegasus because and no one replied on certain. My phone’s No. One. No one took my phone. So the whole operational surveillance against me with the use of Pegasus took place in 2021. However, the charges against me based on WhatsApp content refer to 2020. So it is not legally possible to get this that old information material without Pegasus. But I deny the contents of what was obtained from WhatsApp per communicator, for example, all this material was manipulated to I am not the only target to hear about it.
Also the person I am linked to. So this is a political blow against the President of Warsaw, Mr. Kwiatkowski. So they really want to kill two birds with one stone. So Ziobro wants to show what he is capable of, and he’s using this material against his political opponents. And in Poland, the election campaign has just started, too. And when it comes to espionage, I think that all the issues are related to the purchase of Pegasus, the amendment of the regulations, which enabled the anti-corruption bureau to use funds from the justice fund to in order to purchase Pegasus and the Justice fund to all the the it means from this fund are earmarked for the victims of crimes.
So from the very moment of the purchase and then through the illegal use of Pegasus and to if any circumstance is revealed in such procedures and if they show that the material thus obtained to was available to the Foreign Service is purposefully or if not, because there is this difference in provisions on espionage, then yes, there would be the criminal accountability. This would also play a role. I am not saying whether this will happen, but I think that we should also look into that. However, the current situation in Poland to and to the fact that the general prosecutor and the Minister of Justice is the same person, i.e. Mr. Ziobro, since 2016, he’s doing everything in order to destroy the Polish judiciary, to exclude, to end the checks and controls mechanisms to have all the power in his hands. This circumstances make it impossible for us to explain the whole scandal. Thank you.
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): Thank you, Mr. Wojtunik.
Paweł Wojtunik (Former head of the anti-corruption bureau in Poland): [Speaks polish]
Interpreter: The quality, unfortunately, remains substandard. The interpreters will not work.
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): [02:33:37] So sorry, but I just received the information from the interpreters that the quality is still not good enough so they will not interpret. So unfortunately, we will have to do it in English. I’m very sorry.
Paweł Wojtunik (Former head of the anti-corruption bureau in Poland): Okay. Okay. So as I said, we confirmed in time of internal audit that deputy head of central anti-corruption, Mr. Wąsik and the current Deputy Minister of Interior and the coordinator for Special services, he was logging about 7000 times precisely, we found information about 6800 situations when he entered the system and intercepted voice, voice communication, records of phone interception, reported about this to the prosecutor’s office and to the parliament. And this case is confirmed.
Madam Prosecutor mentioned about a system of circulating of information. I would like to mention that it is very important that under Polish I would like to mention it’s crucial issue, under Polish regulations, there are only two possibilities how the information could be used, information from phone interception or operation, you know, special operative measure the one way is using in criminal trial. So we have to send information to the directory, to the general prosecutor’s office. When you have concerns or doubts or information about possible crime. Another way is we have to destroy whole material materials or. And now can you imagine if someone is intercepting its it’s receiving this information from the third source. We have no warranty that all materials are destroyed or that those matters are not available for politicians, for for journalists. So it’s so information confirmed and it’s talking about something we are calling between professionals a pathology because a regular officer with doing this would never be promoted and responsible for for operational work, supervising of operational officers, etc..
Regarding the question about about special or special software. I would have never bought. I never bought, any equipment, evern simple equipment without warranties, that information is only for us. So information in special services, in law enforcement agencies is the most crucial and valuable thing. So we never bought anything allowing other services, other providers to monitor our operational activities. And I have huge doubt about Pegasus system, because as we know, there’s a technical availability that I’ll call of and some of the system kind of have access to the information I mentioned about our spying system.
So I remember one offer of one Israel company allowing us to monitor phone numbers online and we ask only one question who will be able to see the list of all the targets and answers? Yep, provider, too. So, my answer was only one: no. We never even in time of September instigation when I was within police service or or CBA we never we never used any system allowing to other services to to have access to to our our information.
Mr. Arłukowicz, ask about the exchange of information between special services, of course, special services, foreign agencies or intelligence agencies exchanging information. So when we have leaking of information from our system, we have to the first has to assess the threat, the risks of leaking of this information. But we have to count and have under under consideration that this information could be used not only by this or other intelligence agency. Yes, if information is out of the service, information is available for Russian services as well. I don’t want to to spend more time talking about about quality or not quality of Russian intelligence system, but fact information related to Polish politicians, not only in the context of war in Ukraine, but talking about earlier times. Each information is very, very high assets and valuable for Russian services.
Ah regarding the responsibility and future responsibility of espionage. Of course I hope that those this case and those cases related to Pegasus will be checked by independent prosecutor’s office, that it will be investigated by by independent officers. But for sure there is huge, ah, huge risk. Or we could be sure that there is risk of breaching of other criminal culture regulations especially and I have in mind so regulation regarding abuse of power, negligence and other crimes related to to purchasing of this system, we have to remember that the court of account of Poland are assessed behind assessed action of my of previous head of anti-corruption service Mr. Bayda, as a bridging of of financial proceedings and procedure and finance and procedural regulation. So whole case starting from the from the sending money from Minister of Justice from special fund for for victims to CBA to centre of anti-corruption to by a spying system of citizens. The whole procedure ending on abuse of power in terms of why system was was or it was was used opposite are politicians, prosecutors and other other other people must be investigated in the future. And I hope I hope it will be investigated and there are serious legal grounds to investigate it and to accuse guilty for these undemocratic actions.
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): Thank you very much. I do apologise to the speakers and also to the colleagues, but we have to do the plenary votes in 90 minutes, so we need to really look at the time now. So I ask the members to be brief in their question, but I would also like to ask the two speakers to be very brief in their in their answers. We normally are quite flexible, but with the plenary vote we unfortunately have no other option. So first, Róża Thun.
Róża Thun und Hohenstein (Renew Europe): Thank you two,thank you both. I thank the persecutor and thank you, Mr. Wojtunik, that you found time for us. I have very important questions and the answers to questions by our colleague Arłukowicz, which are very precious.
Now, I’m wondering whether this system is not made leaky on purpose because the spoiling, the Leakproof system may result in better supply opportunities. I think appropriate services should deal with it. Now, there were a number of questions that never had the answers. How do does your experience impact your private life? Because there are more people who are subject to Pegasus in vigilation. Such information goes to politicians, to the media, and law and order politicians use the information. How does it impact your private life? Now, if I understand Mr. Wojtunik contacted us from Chișinău and Mrs. Wrzosek is suspended and her work office is being searched and there are more such persons. People are arrested. They are taken in handcuffs from conferences. So can you please answer us shortly? Thank you.
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): Thank you. Ms. Wrzosek first and please be as brief as possible.
Ewa Wrzosek (Prosecutor and Victim of Pegasus): Thank you for your question. How does this situation impact my personal life? I want to turn your attention to one thing. The very fact that I am a persecutor. It resounds that during the years I worked as a persecutor. I am a bit more rough skin self to say it’s not pleasant for me when I issue public television informs false things about me when against the background of the information and published by the media, that is hate against me.
But it’s not a normal situation that my family suffers. When a mother has to give a phone number to a lawyer so they have it with them if their mother is arrested; It’s not a normal situation. It’s not normal at all in a democratic country in the centre of Europe. And this is the state, I apologise for my emotions, but this is the state in which we are now.
Interpreter: I’m afraid the quality of the sound is zero.
Ewa Wrzosek (Prosecutor and Victim of Pegasus): It seems that the abiding by the law is necessary. So, no mother, instead of making sandwiches for school to their children, should offer a phone call to the lawyers. And this is the situation we’re dealing with. So, I must say, honestly, the last experience, the last thing which has determined me results in that regardless of what will be my fate as a persecutor, I will do all I can so that persecutor Ziobro of course maintaining all procedures and so that he should be responsible for all those illegal actions taken against me and all those actions he has taken in recent years. It’s a terrible situation. It should never happen and it should never be an experience of anyone. And indeed, and this system is made leaky on purpose. There are more and more new rules proposed to the Polish Parliament. Well, the regulations proposed through offering impunity. Can you please conclude? Thank you.
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): Thank you to Mr. Wojtunik.
Interpreter: The quality, unfortunately still substandard. We apologise.
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): Sorry, but English, please, Mr. Wojtunik, I really apologise.
Paweł Wojtunik (Former head of the anti-corruption bureau in Poland): Okay. Okay. So, there is no doubt that the system is created intentionally. It’s based on impunity of general prosecutor, of impunity of ministers or ministers responsible for special investigative measures. And it’s so I would like to mention again that even now there are ongoing call consultations regarding the new telecommunication law in Poland, allowing all law enforcement agencies to have access, unlimited access to to to any communication made by by telecommunication means of like phones, tablets, etc..
Regarding my family, I don’t want to complain. Of course, we are not in complete control over the situation. I am talking about my cell, but my children, my wife, of course the we are under pressure. We feel the prosecutors. We feel we feel like not wanted in Poland. So I work abroad. I worked in Chișinău. It’s very uncomfortable situation. But what is not killing us is making us only stronger and more motivated. What’s what’s happened with us, with me, with with prosecutor is also it’s not because we are we are criminals. We are suspected of serious crimes. It’s because we are very principal and we used to rule of law when we found crimes and regulations related to to to current politicians. And our our you know, the reason for prosecuting investigating are intimidating us is only now that some politicians started to be our public servants with strong power and they have a possibility to do this opposite us.
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): [02:48:57] Thank you very much, Mr. Tarczyński.
Dominik Tarczyński (European Conservatives and Reformists): Thank you very much. First of all, I would like to refer what we heard from Madam Wrzosek. What we heard is a scandal. It is a scandal for a prosecutor to publicly say that the prosecutor general, have violated the law and should be held responsible. You are not a court, Madam Wrzosek, you’re mistaken. You were not invited here to express your political manifests about the Polish judiciary. You are a no politician. You’re a no court, you a prosecutor. Therefore, I am happy that everything is registered, first of all.
And second of all, Mr. Wojtunik did not reply to a question whether he purchased the aggressive spyware when he was head of services. Is it true, Mr. Wojtunik, that you purchased a system called Remote Control System from an Italian company called Hacking Team? And we learned about this when hackers broke into this, compromised that this Italian company, there were invoices. We have an invoice from 2012 and the amount is €178,000. So did you purchase such a decoding systems or not? And did we learn all about this only because of the public opinion? Heard about this breaking of breaking into this Italian, a company called Hacking Team. So can you please reply? When you were head of the service, did you purchase Pegasus like software? And are you aware of the fact that the corruption scandal in the European Parliament was revealed to thanks to such systems, decoding systems and a politician vice President of the European Parliament was also surveilled also in the car and in her house. So politicians are no secret accounts and can be surveilled too. In other countries, you are not sacred cows. Thank you very much. And I await your answer.
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): Miss Wrzosek has been invited here as an expert to express an expert opinion, and we invite her to do so. And we will do so again. Please be brief. You have a point of order? [to Sophie in ’t Veld]
Sophie in ’t Veld (Renew): No, just very quickly, because Mr. Tarczyński said that he was delighted that all of this was on record. I would just like to state for the record and for those who are watching that he walked in 10 minutes ago. So he is responding to an intervention by Ms. Wrzosek where he wasn’t present. Thank you.
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): And so the record shall reflect, I’m sure, Ms. Wrzosek .
Ewa Wrzosek (Prosecutor and Victim of Pegasus): I am also happy that everything is recorded. And unlike Mr. Tarczyński, I know what I’m talking about. And I know the rules. And the Rome Charter of European Prosecutors does not only allow prosecutors, but also obliges them to express in public, express themselves on the issues related to the rule of law and democracy. So what I said, it’s not a political manifesto. And this is what the public television charges me with. And you are a frequent guest there. This is my knowledge as a lawyer on the state of Polish provisions. And I know that general prosecutor is violating these rules. And to close, Mr. Ziobro, as the prosecutor has the same prerogatives, but also same responsibility. If I am not involved in the political activity, I express my opinions. So what is Mr. Ziobro doing all the time? He is all the time addressing the public and the political debate as a leader of his party. Thank you.
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): Thank you, Mr. Wojtunik.
Interpreter Unfortunately, the quality remains substandard.
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): So it’s simply not good enough. Thank you.
Paweł Wojtunik (Former head of the anti-corruption bureau in Poland): To be very precise, I it’s a very complicated issue. The first. I’m limited by the law and I have no right to say about. And the unofficial poll shows or not, which made by my bureau while I was director of the Centre for Investigation. But I mentioned that we never and I can prove it. We never used any system, we never bought any system allowing other services. This question was about access of other services or other institutions or other companies to our door sensitive information and comparing other systems, police service and even the last few days, a police service boat, something similar like special equipment for decoding, encrypting something so, you know, misunderstanding difference and manipulating the difference between encrypting system and and total spyware. Pegasus manipulation. So we never we never use such system as a Pegasus. We never bought such such a system. And so if I were head of the corruption service today, I would never accept so wide our intervention, so wide access to information. So is is missing in question. And I, I understand this question, but it’s my collection.
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): Thank you. Thank you very much. And then finally, that I missed you sorry, Mr. Kohut.
Łukasz Kohut (Socialists and Democrats): Now, Mr. Tarczyński , you’re absurd. You suggest that if one deputy was taking and the money of the entire Parliament is corrupt. This is a nonsense you invented for your propaganda. You’re spitting the face to all European generations, all those who built European Union. So it will think, no way you do. We could suggest that the entire piece beats their lives. I all the deputies beat their wives because one of your party members beat his wife. This is too absurd way of thinking.
And the binding by the law means that you persecute those who broke the law. And let’s compare with those who took money in the European Parliament are arrested and the European Parliament cooperates with services. Vice-Chair was removed from her office in European Parliament. There are no saint, Holy cows, no affair of peace has ever been explained. Some upsc session. Moreover, it’s illegal purchase of Pegasus first settle their gates, their affairs, and then think about others. Mr. Tarczyński, you’re not here, but you are a hypocrite. Therefore, you should first to remove the and you should to remove the problem from your party and then solve the other problems.
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): Not really related to point three of our agenda on the reporting back of the mission to Poland. And there was no question for the two guests. So, I thank the guests for their presentation, their time to be with us. We have to run to the votes. But thank you very much. It’s been a a very enlightening, if not not very optimistic session in that regard. But I really appreciate that you took the time to meet with us. I just want to inform the other members that we our next meeting will be on Monday, the 23rd of January from three till 630 in Brussels for a hearing on the use of spyware by private actors. Thank you all very much for today.