Politicians and journalists from Poland, Spain and Greece who have been targeted by the Pegasus or similar spyware are to give testimony at a public hearing of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in Paris on 12 December 2022, to be live-streamed in English.
The hearing, organised by PACE’s Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, will focus on the role played by spyware in secret state surveillance, as part of a report on this topic being prepared for the Assembly by Pieter Omtzigt (Netherlands, EPP/CD).
- Krzysztof Brejza, a member of the Polish Sejm from the opposition Civic Platform party, and a former member of PACE (accompanied by his lawyer, Dorota Brejza).
- Diana Riba, a Spanish member of the European Parliament from Catalonia’s Republican Left Party, and Vice-Chair of the European Parliament’s committee of inquiry which is also currently investigating the use of Pegasus and similar spyware.
- Thanasis Koukakis, an investigative journalist from Greece specialising in financial affairs, who has reported on corruption and money laundering (via teleconference).
In two earlier hearings, the committee heard from journalists who first revealed the spyware surveillance, as well as data protection and legal experts, and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
In an April 2022 introductory memorandum, Mr Omtzigt listed the different Council of Europe member states where it is alleged Pegasus has been used, those individuals targeted, and the different national inquiries into its use that have been launched, as well as international reaction so far.
He concluded that the use of this software had “serious implications” for the human rights of those targeted, and questioned whether its use on journalists, lawyers, politicians and human rights activists could be justified on national security grounds or to investigate crime.
Mr Omtzigt’s final report is due for possible plenary debate by PACE in June 2023. The Assembly, which brings together 306 parliamentarians from the 46 member states of the Council of Europe, has powers to investigate human rights abuses in member states and make recommendations to Council of Europe governments.