BUDAPEST: Hungary used the invasive Pegasus spy software, a senior ruling party official said on Thursday, but insisted the government had not spied on citizens illegally.
In July Hungary was the only EU country listed by an investigative journalism consortium as a potential user of the spyware, with hundreds of targets including journalists, lawyers and other public figures. Smartphones infected with Pegasus are essentially turned into pocket spying devices, allowing the user to read the target’s messages, look through their photos, track their location and even turn on their camera without them knowing.
But nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government has so far refused to confirm that it used Pegasus. Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto insisted that the government has “no knowledge” of illegal data collection. But ruling party Fidesz MP Lajos Kosa said “yes” Thursday when asked by a Hungarian journalist if the Interior Ministry had bought the software.
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