EU states using ‘totalitarian methods’ to spy on journalists – MEP

Lazy eyes listen


The EU countries are monitoring journalists’ conversations with “no remedy and no oversight,” according to Dutch MEP Sophie in ‘t Veld, who spoke to The Guardian on Monday. The senator was responding to charges that an EU state had installed spyware on a Russian opposition journalist’s phone.

Galina Timchenko, the founder of the anti-Kremlin news website Meduza, told The Guardian on Monday that her phone had been tapped with Israeli-developed Pegasus malware before she met with other Russian opposition journalists in Berlin earlier this year. An examination conducted by the University of Toronto and Access Now revealed that the attack was carried out by an EU state.

Timchenko is headquartered in Latvia, which has denied any involvement. The German government refused to comment. Both countries have access to NSO’s Pegasus software, which was built in Israel.

According to in ‘t Veld’s investigation, the governments of Poland, Hungary, Greece, and Spain have all utilised Pegasus to watch opponents.

“People have often said this whole spyware story compares to the European version of Watergate. It’s not. It’s more like ‘The Lives of Others’,” she said, referring to a German film depicting the pervasive surveillance of the East German Stasi.

“I’m not saying Europe is already descending into totalitarianism, but these are totalitarian methods,” she continued. “If it is true that the Latvian government or other European states did this, then there is no way to find out. There is no remedy, and no oversight.”

“[EU] governments are using it for political purposes, just like undemocratic ones do. In some very exceptional cases the use of spyware might be legitimate…the point is that we have no way of knowing if the use is proportionate and legitimate,” in ‘t Veld concluded.

Meduza editor-in-chief Ivan Kolpakov stated that the breach was “likely carried out by some European security service.” We’re not sure if it was Latvia or another country, but we have a stronger [presence] in Latvia.”

Pegasus can be installed on a target’s phone with or without the user clicking on a deceptive link. Once installed, Pegasus allows the hacker to read messages, look through images, track the person’s location, and even turn on the camera and microphone without the phone’s owner’s knowledge. According to a list of NSO clients obtained in 2021, the spyware was used to spy on over 50,000 politicians, journalists, activists, and corporate people.