2021 spyware targeted prime minister’s phone

MADRID (AP) — Spanish officials said Monday that the cellphones of the prime minister and the defense minister were infected last year with Pegasus spyware that is only available to government agencies in an operation that wasn’t authorized by the government.

Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s mobile phone was breached twice in May 2021, and Defense Minister Margarita Robles’ device was targeted once the following month, Presidency Minister Félix Bolaños said in a hastily convened news conference.

He said the breaches resulted in a significant amount of data being obtained, and that reports detailing the breaches have been transferred to Spain’s National Court for further investigation.

“We have no doubt that this is an illicit, unauthorized intervention,” Bolaños said. “It comes from outside state organisms and it didn’t have judicial authorization.”

Spain’s government is under pressure to explain why the cellphones of dozens of people connected to the separatist movement in the northeastern Catalonia region were infected with Pegasus between 2017 and 2020, according to cybersecurity experts’ group Citizen Lab.

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