Top Hungarian Official Admits Government Bought Pegasus Spyware
November 5, 2021
A top official in Hungary's governing party has confirmed for
the first time that the government had bought spyware that was
allegedly used to monitor journalists, lawyers, businesspeople,
and opposition figures in dozens of countries around the world.
Lajos Kosa, the chairman of the parliament's Committee on
Defense and Law Enforcement, told journalists on November 4
following a closed committee session that the Interior Ministry
had bought Pegasus software produced by Israel’s NSO Group.
The company became the center of controversy after an
international media consortium reported in July that its Pegasus
spyware was used in attempts to hack smartphones belonging to
journalists, human rights activists, business executives, and
officials in some 50 countries.
Hungary was named in the reports as one of the countries trying
to infiltrate the digital devices of a number of targets,
triggering protests in Budapest.
Smartphones infected with Pegasus enable operators to record
phone calls, access text messages, photos, e-mails, and
passwords, track GPS data, and secretly activate microphones and
Kosa, a member of Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s ruling Fidesz
party, said that in all cases of surveillance authorities acted
legally after receiving the permission of a judge or the Justice
Minister Peter Szijjarto had previously denied knowing about
such data collection, joining other ruling party members in
dismissing allegations that the government illegally spied on
Opposition lawmakers are demanding a probe into the use of
Pegasus. They complain that the findings of two special
committee sessions examining the case have been classified by
the governing party until 2050.
Hungary's government is at odds with many other European Union
member states over issues regarding the rule of law and
The admission comes a day after the United States put the NSO
Group on a trade blacklist, saying its software was behind the
“transnational repression” carried out by some foreign