Council of Europe seeks answers on Belgium's use of Pegasus spyware

The Council of Europe has asked Belgium and other member states to explain their alleged use of the Pegasus spying software. Belgium has three months to respond.

The assembly this week backed a resolution calling on the governments of Poland, Hungary, Greece, Spain and Azerbaijan to provide explanations on the use of Pegasus within three months and to investigate possible cases of misuse. MEPs say there is "growing evidence" that the software has been used for illegal purposes.

In addition, MEPs from the 46 member states are also seeking explanations from "other member states that appear to have purchased or used Pegasus", including Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and Luxembourg. These countries are asked to clarify the use of the software and the surveillance mechanisms within three months.

Used 'legally'

The assembly says ​ covert surveillance of political opponents, public officials, journalists, human rights activists and civil society is a clear violation of the European Convention on Human Rights - except for purposes listed in the Convention, such as the prevention of crime and the protection of national security.

Pegasus made news across Europe in 2021 after investigative journalists exposed the massive use of the spyware by governments. In Belgium, Justice minister Vincent Van Quickenborne admitted that year that Pegasus could be used "legally" by intelligence services, without providing further details.


Justice minister Vincent Van Quickenborne © BELGA PHOTO JONAS ROOSENS

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Belgian police reveal use of controversial Pegasus spyware
It has been revealed that the Belgian Federal Police is using Pegasus, the controversial spyware technology, for certain investigations. The spyware technology is currently under investigation by the European Parliament for alleged breaches of EU law among Member States.

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