The Justice Minister, who is also in charge of EU affairs, said on her Facebook page on Monday that national security remains the exclusive competence of member states under the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. According to her, the mandate of the PEGA committee is “dangerously exceeding EU and institutional competences, as confirmed by relevant statements of the European Commission.”
As the Minister wrote, the PEGA Committee serves the political aims of the European left-wing. She added that the Hungarian government is opposed to such practices; therefore, in the interest of protecting the rule of law, they will not endorse them by cooperating with the PEGA Committee. Judit Varga added that “we do not wish to assist the performance of the Hungarian and European left-wing funded by Soros-dollars.”
A 10-member delegation of the European Parliament’s Committee of Inquiry into the use of Pegasus and similar spy software (PEGA) arrived in Hungary on Monday for a two-day visit. The committee was established last year with the intent of revealing which EU regulations the surveillance was in conflict with, and to raise the question of which EU measures or sanctions can be applied for potential legal violations.
There are serious questions regarding the impartiality of the Committee of Inquiry, as one of its members, Dutch politician Sophie in ‘t Veld, who is from the European Parliament’s Renew faction, is well-known for her disparaging remarks at the expense of the Hungarian government. She presented the preliminary findings of the PEGA Committee last November, which claimed that in Poland and Hungary, the use of spyware is an integral element of a “system designed to control and oppress the citizens.” The report also said that “the use of Pegasus in Hungary appears to be part of a calculated and strategic destruction of media freedom and freedom of expression by the government.”
The Hungarian government is accused of the use of the spyware and there is an ongoing investigation around the spyware’s unethical and unlawful use against members of the opposition, investigative journalists, and pro-opposition businessmen.
Pegasus, a software developed by Israeli tech firm NSO Group, is a spyware capable of breaking into a person’s mobile device without requiring typical hacking techniques such as phishing or Trojan downloads. Using so-called “zero-click attacks,” the spyware can exploit flaws or bugs in a phone’s operating system and enter a phone without any interaction from its owner.
It is interesting to note, however, as Remix News suggested in an earlier article, the Pegasus scandal broke out almost a year before the 2022 Hungarian general elections, and the timing might suggest that it was intended to be a smear campaign against the conservative Fidesz government. This conclusion is reinforced by the fact that the European Parliament has not presented any evidence proving that all the phones in question were actually infected with the virus. In fact, many of the affected phone numbers were only found on a list linked to the Pegasus spyware, but that in itself does not prove that they were also infected. Nor is there any evidence that the Hungarian government actually used the software. Yet the news had served its purpose in the Western mainstream media to depict the Hungarian government as one using surveillance methods against journalists.
Featured photo via Facebook/Judit Varga