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Prosecutor’s Office Dismisses Complaints against Fidesz Politician Who Admitted Purchase of Pegasus Spyware

Péter Cseresnyés 2021.11.26.

Ruling Fidesz vice-president Lajos Kósa did not share factually accurate information when he acknowledged that the Ministry of Interior had purchased Pegasus spyware, so he did not commit a crime when he shared the information to the public, according to the prosecutor’s office who rejected several official complaints against him. The prosecution’s decision shows that the Ministry of the Interior did not buy the software, but it is still unknown which official body is responsible for the acquisition.

After months of silence, Lajos Kósa, a vice-president of Hungary’s governing Fidesz party, acknowledged for the first time in early November that the government indeed purchased the Israeli spyware tool Pegasus.

The Pegasus scandal broke out in July after it was discovered, that the Hungarian government also participated along with multiple national governments in actively using military-grade spyware to target political opponents, primarily journalists, politicians, and businessmen.

Kósa, who is also the chairman of parliament’s Committee on Defense and Law Enforcement, confirmed to journalists following a closed committee session that Hungary’s Interior Ministry had bought the malware.

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When the Fidesz politician was asked “Did the Interior Ministry purchase Pegasus software?”, he answered with a resounding “yes.”

Kósa’s answer came as a surprise, as for a long time, the Orbán-led government refused to confirm or deny the purchase and use of Pegasus, only insisting that every surveillance is and has been carried out legally in Hungary.

Not long after the politician’s comments, several official complaints were brought against Kósa for the criminal offense of revealing classified information and abuse of authority, as he was accused of having disclosed classified information and thereby committing a crime.

However, the Prosecutor’s Office has now closed the case in less than two weeks and dismissed all the complaints it had received.

According to the Prosecutor’s Office, Kósa acknowledged that the Interior Ministry had bought the malware, but he did not share factually accurate information; therefore, the possibility of him sharing classified information can also be ruled out.

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“The prosecution has official information that the Ministry of Interior did not purchase any software under the name Pegasus,” states the prosecutor’s resolution.

The complaint does not contain any specific information or facts that would prove that the Fidesz MP had made classified information available to unauthorized persons, the resolution adds.

“In the statement of MP Lajos Kósa, the fact that he answered ‘yes’ to the question of whether the Ministry of the Interior purchased Pegasus software, can be considered as concrete information.

“The fact that the Ministry of Interior purchased Pegasus software – based on the information obtained during the supplementary denunciation – does not correspond to reality, so this untrue information cannot be considered classified information, i.e. this part of the statement excludes the offense of misuse of classified information,” the prosecutor’s office writes.

Featured photo by Zoltán Máthé/MTI