Prosecutor starts investigation into opposition phone tapping

Speaking to PAP on Tuesday, Brejza said that the investigation was the "only correct" decision that could be taken. Radek Pietruszka/PAP

The District Prosecutor's Office in the central Polish town of Ostrów Wielkopolski has launched an investigation into the alleged phone hacking of a senior opposition figure.

The phone belonging to Krzysztof Brejza, a senator from the opposition Civic Coalition (KO) grouping, was allegedly hacked through the use of Pegasus spyware.

Pegasus, which is only sold to governments and state agencies, can harvest information from smart phones and eavesdrop on conversations.

Brejza filed a complaint with the prosecutor in September. Ostrów Wielkopolski District Prosecutor spokesperson Maciej Meler said the investigation was a result of procedural steps.

Speaking to PAP on Tuesday, Brejza said that the investigation was the "only correct" decision that could be taken.

"I remind you that as many as four months have passed and that doesn't change the fact that the prosecutor's office has remained inactive," he said. "My wife, who is running the matter, has complained about this inactivity. The complaint is highly substantive, and it (the investigation – PAP) is the only correct decision in a situation of such seriousness, but also in a situation with such strong evidence."

Brejza added that his complaint had been complemented with specialist expertise from Canada's Citizen Lab and the results of research by Amnesty International, the two organisations that have argued his phone had been hacked.

The Citizen Lab Research Laboratory is a specialist IT department at the University of Toronto, which confirmed in late December that the Pegasus software had been used to hack the mobile phones of some members of Poland's opposition.

According to it, one of the victims was Brejza, whose phone was digitally broken into 33 times between April and October 2019, when he ran the parliamentary election campaign for KO.

Other known victims include Roman Giertych, a lawyer and government critic, and Ewa Wrzosek, an independent prosecutor who has voiced opposition to the Polish government's changes to the judicial system.

Brejza told PAP he would be watching the prosecutor's office closely to see whether they conducted the investigation "according to a political calendar," highlighting that three months have already been wasted, or whether they would conduct it in line with the law.

Senator Brejza is scheduled to give evidence to a special Senate commission into the hacking affair on Wednesday. On Monday, the commission heard from Citizen Lab experts John Scott-Railton and Bill Marczak.