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Spanish PM Pedro Sánchez had phone hacked with Pegasus spyware

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and Defense Minister Margarita Robles were targeted with Pegasus spyware that surveilled their mobile phones, the government said Monday.

During an emergency press conference on a public holiday in Spain, the minister of the presidency, Félix Bolaños, said there was a complete intrusion of the government leaders’ mobile communication by an “external” force in May and June 2021.

Sánchez’s phone has been infected twice and large amounts of data were extracted from both phones, the government said.

“When we say external intrusions, we mean that they are alien to state agencies and do not have judicial authorization from any official agency. That is why we classify them as illegal and external,” Bolaños said, adding that the government was currently investigating whether other senior members were hacked.

Pegasus is developed by Israeli company NSO Group and is used by government agencies and others across the world to spy on politicians, journalists and activists, recent investigations revealed.

The spyware has been making headlines in Spain for weeks now. A recent investigation reported that at least 65 Catalan politicians and activists were targeted by the spyware, while journalists revealed last year that the software was likely being used by governments across the world to keep tabs on opponents.

On Wednesday, the European Parliament plenary is set to debate the use of the Pegasus software by EU countries against individuals, including MEPs.

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