Report: Phone of Catalonian Politician Targeted by Israeli NSO Group Spyware Only Available to Governments

Roger Torrent suspects Spanish government spied on him through Pegasus in 2019

The speaker of Catalonia's regional parliament Roger Torrent was allegedly spied upon by the Spanish government using spyware developed by Israeli company NSO, according to an investigative report published by the Guardian and El Pais newspapers earlier this week.

The newspapers said that Torrent's phone was attacked using Pegasus in 2019 through the popular WhatsApp messaging service.

According to the Guardian and El Pais, the attack occurred between April and May 2019 when some 1,400 cell phones worldwide were hacked. Citizen Lab, a cybersecurity group from the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy at the University of Toronto investigated the messaging application in 2019 and found numerous numbers that had been targeted, including Torrent.

In addition to Torrent, the Citizen Lab also identified two other pro-independence politicians that had been targeted - Anna Gabirel and Jordi Domingo.

NSO Group has previously stated that its spyware is only sold to governments for the purpose of counterterrorism and law enforcement tracking. As such, Torrent told the newspapers that he believes the Spanish government is behind the attack and would be seeking an investigation.

“It seems wrong that politicians are being spied on in a democracy with the rule of law,” Torrent told the Guardian.

The newspapers also contacted several Spanish authorities for comment, including the Spanish prime minister's office which denied spying on the politicians. 

“The government has no evidence that the speaker of the Catalan parliament, Roger Torrent, the former MP Anna Gabriel and the activist Jordi Domingo have been the targets of hacking via their mobiles.

“Furthermore, we must state that any operation involving a mobile phone is always conducted in accordance with the relevant judicial authorization.”