Budapest, 5 November 2021 (dpa/MIA) — After months of silence on the issue, a high-ranking government official in Hungary has admitted that the country’s Interior Ministry purchased the controversial Pegasus surveillance spyware.
The secret and police services in question acted “in accordance with the law in all cases,” Lajos Kosa, chairman of the parliamentary defence and interior committee, said in Budapest on Thursday.
Any spying carried out with the help of the software was authorized by judges or the Justice Ministry, he added.
Kosa made his comments following a meeting of the committee, the state news agency MTI reported.
In the meeting, Interior Minister Sandor Pinter had been questioned about the use of Pegasus. Further details of the hearing are to be kept confidential until 2050.
Journalists, rights organizations and data forensics experts began reporting on Pegasus in July. They warned that authoritarian governments around the world had used the surveillance software on a large scale against critics, opposition figures and journalists.
In Hungary, independent journalists, media proprietors and politicians had the software loaded onto their mobile phones without their knowledge. The Hungarian government did not initially comment on these revelations.
The country has been governed for almost 12 years now by right-wing nationalist Viktor Orban. Critics have accused him of eroding democracy and the rule of law.