Attila Mesterházy, the Socialist deputy head of parliament’s foreign affairs committee, on Friday turned to the director general of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution (ÁH) to ask about the use of the Israeli-made Pegasus spyware in Hungary.
Mesterházy told an online news conference after his meeting with Szabolcs Bárdos, the office’s director general, that he had not been told whether the Hungarian government was using the spyware. Neither was the director general authorised to reveal whether those named in the media had actually been surveilled using Pegasus, he added. The politician said he had been told by Bárdos that no lawmaker had been under surveillance in the recent period. He also cited the ÁH director general as saying that the agency did not select its targets based on their job or position. If the AH wants to surveil someone, it must turn to the Special Service for National Security and obtain permission from a court or the justice minister, Mesterházy cited Bárdos as saying.
Mesterházy said that because surveillance tools like Pegasus were being used by the Special Service for National Security, he had set up a meeting with the head of that agency for next week. He also said he had requested an appointment with the justice minister a month and a half ago, but had yet to receive a reply. Mesterházy proposed that parliament’s national security committee set up an investigative committee to look into the Pegasus case. Last month, data protection authority NAIH said it had launched an official investigation into press reports that the spyware licenced by the Israeli NSO Group had been used to hack the mobile phones of specific targets in multiple countries.