Spain’s prime minister’s cellphone was hacked with Israeli software, says country’s government | World

Spain’s secret service has detected that the cell phone of the country’s Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, and the Minister of Defense, Margarita Robles, was infected with Israeli spy software Pegasus.

According to the government, Sánchez’s cell phone was infected in May last year, and at least one data leak has occurred since then. Authorities did not say whether they consider any group suspected of spying.

In April, the Spanish government was accused by the separatist movement in Catalonia, one of the country’s regions, of having spied on the cell phones of leaders of the movement with the same software, which can only be acquired by states or governments. Madrid denied.

“The interventions were illegal and external, which means that they were carried out by unofficial groups and without authorization”, said the Minister of the Presidency, Felix Bolanos.

The Audiencia Nacional, the highest level of Spanish justice, will investigate the case.

Pressure from separatists

The announcement comes amid pressure for Spain’s socialist government to explain the leaking of cellphone data from about 60 people linked to the separatist movement in Catalonia, a region in northeastern Spain where part of the population supports independence from the Spanish state.

Following the accusation made by the separatists, one of Pedro Sánchez’s main allies in Parliament, the left-wing Catalan separatist party ERC announced that it would stop supporting the government until Madrid took action on the investigation.

The European Union has been debating a ban on Israeli software Pegasus, on the grounds that governments are abusing the program to spy on activists, journalists and politicians.

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