Ten MEPs from the Inquiry Committee on Pegasus and other spyware visited Madrid from 20 to 21 March to speak with national and regional authorities, journalists and civil society actors.
During their visit, the MEPs discussed spyware use with State Secretary for European Affairs Pascual Navarro and people who suspect they were targeted with spyware, namely the President of the regional Government of Catalonia Pere Aragonés, the Catalan regional Minister of Foreign Action Meritxell Serret, and Ernest Maragall, Councillor at Barcelona City Council. They also met with members of the Catalan Parliament’s Inquiry Committee on Pegasus, a representative of the Ombudsman’s office, NGOs working in the area of fundamental rights, and journalists.
The visit concluded with a press conference, where Committee Chair Jeroen Lenaers (EPP, NL) said: “This visit, like our previous visits to Israel, Poland, Greece, Cyprus and Hungary, has given us food for thought as we prepare our recommendations for what member states and the EU should do next to protect people’s rights to privacy and private communications, along with other fundamental rights. While we believe that Spain has an independent justice system with sufficient safeguards, we also see the need to implement new rules in the EU that could help prevent abuse cases and address this new form of intrusive spyware.”
Rapporteur Sophie In ‘t Veld (Renew, NL) added: “Spyware is a tool for exceptional and very narrowly defined cases. The current definition of threats to national security is too broad, and both transparency and meaningful remedies for targets of spyware are missing. The fact that the hacks were considered legal but no charges were brought against the people targeted leaves open too many questions. Furthermore, If the surveillance of politicians, lawyers and civil society was legal and properly authorised, why did it trigger the resignation of the head of the CNI, and a reform of its legal framework? We need clarity from the authorities. The Ombudsman assessed the cases only for procedural legality, not for proportionality. For 47 cases there is no explanation at all, leaving the victims without any recourse. The burden of proof is unfairly on the victims, and they rely on the very bodies that used spyware against them, for obtaining the evidence. We strongly recommend for Europol to be invited by the Spanish authorities to assist with the forensic examination of the devices.”
More information: European Parliament