According to opposition leader Donald Tusk, a hacker affair in Poland is developing "into the greatest crisis in democracy" since the end of the dictatorship in 1989. He wants to use investigative committees in both chambers of parliament to investigate the background of hacker attacks on the telephones of an opposition politician, one associated with the opposition Lawyer and a public prosecutor critical of the government with the Israeli espionage software Pegasus.

Reinhard Veser

Editor in politics.

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It is not certain who is behind the attacks, but the opposition is convinced that it is an act by Polish intelligence services, which are known to have owned Pegasus.

In early December, the Israeli media reported that the Israeli government had removed Poland and Hungary as the only EU members from the list of countries to which Pegasus may be sold.

Can the 2019 election still be considered fair?

In the opinion of opposition politicians, the wiretapping affair raises the question of whether the parliamentary election in autumn 2019, from which the right-wing PiS emerged as the winner, can still be described as fair. In the months leading up to the vote, according to the Canadian research group Citizen Lab, the mobile phone of Krzysztof Brejza, who led the election campaign of the largest opposition force, the liberal-conservative civic coalition, was regularly accessed. On the basis of allegedly captured text messages, Brejza was attacked on the public television broadcaster TVP, which is controlled by the PiS.

The news, presented in a manipulated form, was intended to give the impression that Brejza was secretly coordinating hate campaigns against political opponents. "That was an attempt to break up the coalition's election campaign," said Brejza in an interview with Gazeta Wyborcza at the end of October when he first voiced the suspicion that he had been wiretapped with Pegasus. The attacks had an impact on the outcome of the election, said Brejza, because the campaign staff had been without a leadership for a month and a half. The result of the examination of Brejza's phone by Citizen Lab became known the day before Christmas Eve.

It had already become known that the Canadian researchers had discovered Pegasus attacks on the telephones of the lawyer Roman Giertych and the public prosecutor Ewa Wrzosek. In 2016, Wrzosek was one of the founders of an organization of public prosecutors that criticized the changes in the Polish judiciary initiated by the PiS government. As a politician in a small national Catholic party, Giertych was a minister in a coalition government led by the PiS from 2006 to 2007.

He then moved politically to the center, but withdrew from active politics. As a lawyer, Giertych represents well-known opposition politicians and an Austrian businessman who claims to have been betrayed by PiS chairman Jaroslaw Kaczynski in a real estate project. According to him, the then EU Council President Tusk, for whom he worked in private matters, could also be indirectly affected by the attacks on Giertych's phone in 2019.

Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki described the reports on the wiretapping attacks on Tuesday as "fake news".

And even if the three people were actually monitored with Pegasus, it was not certain that they were victims of Polish secret services, "because there are many secret services in the world," said Morawiecki.

However, a government spokesman had previously spoken of a lawful approach by the Polish secret services and referred to alleged criminal proceedings for economic offenses.

The Polish media first reported on the purchase of Pegasus by the anti-corruption secret service CBA in 2017.