The phones of top politicians were hacked in May and June last year with the notorious spy software Pegasus, which should only be available to government agencies, announced at a press conference.

The person or persons behind the attack managed to come across a significant amount of data, according to coordinating minister Félix Bolaños.

The information has been handed over to the Spanish judiciary.

"It is fact"

- We have no doubt that this is an illegal and unauthorized intervention, he says, and states that it is coming from an external party, ie abroad.

- It is not an assumption, it is facts of enormous weight.

The Spanish government is already demanding explanations as to how dozens of people linked to separatist movements in Catalonia have been affected by the same spyware between 2017 and 2020.

Many politicians and other prominent people have been affected by Pegasus in recent years.

It has been used by both governments and police forces in different countries.

The software has been developed by the Israeli company NSO Group and can be installed on people's mobile phones in secret, after which it begins to gather information and eavesdrop on the microphone and camera.

Widespread use

In July last year, it was reported that nearly 50,000 phone numbers of activists, journalists and politicians around the world may have been monitored using Pegasus.

Among those said to have been exposed were, according to media reports, three presidents, ten prime ministers and one king.

NSO claims that the company only sells to approved customers and that these in turn undertake to use Pegasus only in the fight against terrorism or serious crime.

Among these approved customers, however, are for some time authoritarian states such as Azerbaijan, the United Arab Emirates, Kazakhstan and Morocco.

Even within the EU, governments in some countries, such as Poland, have been accused of using the software to eavesdrop on opposition politicians.

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SVT's reporter answers three questions about the spy program Pegasus.

Photo: Emil Larsson / SVT