Spanish Prime Minister and Defense Minister Targeted by Pegasus Spyware

Spanish Prime Minister Pedros Sanchez

Authorities in Spain have said that the mobile phones of Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and Minister of Defense Margarita Robles were tapped last year using the controversial Pegasus spyware.

Sanchez’s phone had been targeted in May 2021 and Robles’ the following month said Felix Bolanos, Spanish minister of the presidency.

“It is not a supposition, they are facts of enormous gravity,” said the minister in an announcement.

“We are absolutely certain that it was an external attack. Because in Spain, in a democracy like ours, all such interventions are carried out by official bodies and with judicial authorization.

“In this case, neither of the two circumstances prevailed, which is why that we have no doubt that it was an external intervention. We want the justice ministry to investigate.”

Bolanos did not say whether there was any indication of who was responsible for the attack or where it originated from.

The Israel-based NSO Group, which owns the Pegasus software, claims they only sell it to government agencies, raising the possibility that the attack may have been carried out by state-sponsored actors. It is also highly possible though that the software has leaked onto the black market, meaning it could be in the hands of criminal or terrorist organizations.

The software, which infiltrates mobile phones and allows the operator to use the camera and microphone, has been heavily criticized by privacy campaigners, and NSO Group have found themselves the subject of several lawsuits.

As well as lawsuits from individuals targeted by the software, the firm has also had to content with legal action from tech giants Apple and Microsoft.