Pegasus: European Parliament’s investigation reveals 12 EU countries are using the spyware

An investigation commission on the Pegasus case set up by the European Parliament found out that some 12 EU member states out of 27 are Pegasus clients.

According to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, the commission of enquiry was set up after European commissioners denounced having been spied on, which suggested that it was European state-to-European state espionage.

These findings show that the Pegasus affair relayed in 2021 by several international NGOs and media, like Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and Forbidden Stories consortium (grouping 17 Western media), which pointed the finger primarily on the software’s users in non-Western countries, including Morocco and other states in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia, suggesting that Western countries respected the rules, privacy and did not engage in espionage, was in fact an orchestrated campaign, dictated by political motivations.

The campaign by international but especially French media group and NGOs had accused Morocco of using the Israeli spyware Pegasus. Morocco then filed defamation lawsuits with the Paris Court, demanding that evidence to corroborate these accusations be revealed.

The European Parliament’s commission of enquiry visited Israel and held talks with employees of NSO, which developed the spyware, representatives of the Israeli Defense Ministry, and local experts.

The European commission members were “surprised” to discover during their investigation in Israel that NSO had European customers, and that out of 14 European countries that had signed contracts with the company in the past, 12 are still using the Pegasus program at a state level, reveals the Israeli media.

During their inquiry visit, the EU commission members attempted to identify NSO customers in Europe at present, but were “surprised” at the sheer number of European customers across 12 EU member countries.

“The Israeli firm’s responses to questions from the European Commission reveal that the company works with many security bodies in the EU,” reports the Israeli daily Haaretz, debunking the allegations by Forbidden Stories consortium and NGOs that had targeted Morocco.

“14 nations have done business with NSO in the past, and at least 12 are still using Pegasus for lawful interception of mobile calls,” according to NSO.

At times, there can be multiple clients from the same country, explained NSO, varying from law enforcement to intelligence agencies, all of whom are end-users, as the company did not cite contracts with governments.

Additionally, NSO did not disclose which EU countries are active or previous customers. Their client status, however, has not been refuted.

“If one company has 14 member states as customers, you can imagine the overall size of the industry,” wondered a member of the Pegasus inquiry committee.

 

The investigation has seemingly faced European legislators with the sheer, unexpected size of the industry, as they now believe that there is a “huge market for commercial spyware, and EU governments are very enthusiastic buyers,” the MEP stated.

Many EU countries had signed contracts with the Israeli company in the past, and 12 still use Pegasus for lawful interception of cell phones calls, according to NSO’s response to questions from the European Commission, explains Haaretz.

Part of these revelations, the Israeli company explained that it currently works with 22 European “end users” – security agencies, intelligence departments and law enforcement agencies- in 12 European countries. In some of these countries, NSO has more than one customer under contracts signed not with the country but with the operating agencies, according to the revelations of the investigation.

Anyways, these shocking revelations and others that are surely still in store shed light on the real goals of the campaign orchestrated in 2021 against specific countries, including Morocco, in the Pegasus case.

About Khalid Al Mouahidi 3762 Articles
Khalid Al Mouahidi : A binational from the US and Morocco, Khalid El Mouahidi has worked for several american companies in the Maghreb Region and is currently based in Casablanca, where he is doing consulting jobs for major international companies . Khalid writes analytical pieces about economic ties between the Maghreb and the Mena Region, where he has an extensive network