Spain’s PM vows to reform intelligence services following phone hacking scandal
Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez pledged to further regulate and oversee the country’s spy agencies on Thursday following the discovery of unauthorized spyware on the phones of top politicians earlier this year.
In April the Citizen Lab, a University of Toronto-based research center, published findings that showed Pegasus spyware was found on the mobile phones of officials of the ERC — the Catalan separatist party. Spanish government officials said earlier this month that phones used by Prime Minister Sánchez and Defense Minister Margarita Robles were also infected with the spyware.
The digital espionage tool is made by Israel-based NSO Group and has long been used to surveil dissidents and activists.
The incidents caused a rift between Sánchez’s minority party and the ERC due in part to the lack of knowledge concerning who was behind the intrusions. The ERC, which led a failed attempt to gain independence in 2017, assumed Madrid to be responsible for the scandal.
Sánchez confirmed that 18 of the 60 infected phones belonging to those linked to the separatist party were court-ordered and authorized by Spain’s National Intelligence Centre (CNI).
The Citizen Lab has called the hacks “detached from the Spanish administration,” adding that they consider it to be the work of “unknown actors,” the AFP reported. Prime Minister Sánchez told the public Thursday that his administration is moving to “strengthen judicial control” over CNI to “prevent these security breaches from happening again.”
Sánchez also discussed new legislation to replace the current law concerning classified information — enacted under a dictatorship in 1968 — to better comply with democracy and “constitutional principles.”