Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez talks on the phone during the first face-to-face EU summit since the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Brussels, Belgium July 20, 2020. John Thys/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and Minister of Defense Margarita Robles have been spied on by the Israeli spyware Pegasus.
In a press conference on 2 May, the Minister of the Presidency Félix Bolaños detailed how the terminals of the prime minister and the minister of defense were infected in May and June 2021, respectively.
“There is evidence that the Pegasus software has been used in at least 20 countries, and we want the justice system to investigate,” he said.
Bolaños has insisted that the technical reports of the National Cryptologic Center respond to “proven facts that are reliable and extremely serious” and that “they are not suppositions.”
The attackers extracted 2.6 gigabytes of data from the prime minister’s phone and nine megabytes from phone of the minister of defense. The government does not yet know the precise information that was stolen nor how sensitive it might be.
The Spanish official has pointed out that no evidence of subsequent intrusions has been found and that the terminals of all ministers would be verified to check if there have been further infections to this system.
Bolaños commented that these interventions are “unofficial and without judicial authorization.” Without the ability to determine where the espionage came from, there is only the option of it being another country or a multinational, as the only organizations with access to Pegasus.
The infamous Israeli-made spyware Pegasus has also infected the devices of some European leaders.
Canadian researchers at the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto announced on 18 April that the malware had infected devices in the office of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at 10 Downing Street.
Leaders of the Catalonia separatist movement accused the Spanish government of infecting their devices with the Israeli-made spyware.
On 11 April, two EU officials publicly confirmed that last year, members of the European Commission were targeted by hackers using Pegasus.
The spyware has also been used to target regional figures in West Asia.
Recently, and in the wake of the Bahraini government’s normalization of political and military ties with Israel, the personal devices of three Bahraini activists who have been critical of their government were infected by Pegasus.