Kósa admits to Hungary using NSO Group's Pegasus spyware

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Lajos Kósa, a senior lawmaker from Hungary's ruling party Fidesz has acknowledged the Interior Ministry bought and used Pegasus spy software, according to German public state-owned international broadcaster Deutsche Welle.

While the MP said no laws were broken, minutes of a parliamentary meeting are classified until 2050. The MP acknowledged for the first time yesterday that Hungary's Interior Ministry had purchased and used the spyware. Kósa, who chairs the parliamentary defense and law enforcement committee, told a journalist after a closed committee hearing that "yes," Hungary had purchased Pegasus software from Israeli company NSO Group.

Kósa insisted the government had not used the malicious software to spy on Hungarians. Pegasus spyware effectively turns cellphones into portable spying devices. It allows for its customers to seize control of the smartphone of a targeted individual, and turn on cameras and microphones without the phone's owner even being aware. It also grants access to photos, location data, and other important information stored on the phone.

Minister of Interior Sándor Pinter told Kósa's committee that the security services in Hungary only used Pegasus with the permission of either a judge or the Ministry of Justice. However, opposition legislator Ágnes Vadai said Pintér refused to say whether journalists or politicians had been targeted by the Hungarian state with Pegasus spyware.

She also noted that the minutes of Thursday's meeting were classified until 2050. In July, an international consortium of journalists rolled out stories on the use of Pegasus spyware by governments worldwide. Hungary was the only EU country listed as being a client of NSO Group to purchase Pegasus, DW said.

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