Spain said Monday that the mobile phones of Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and Defense Minister Margarita Robles were tapped using Pegasus spyware in an “illicit and external” intervention.
Their phones were infected last year by software owned by the Israeli-based firm NSO, which is the target of numerous investigations worldwide, according to a senior official.
“It is not a supposition, they are facts of enormous gravity,” said the minister of the presidency, Felix Bolanos.
“We are absolutely certain that it was an external attack…because in Spain, in a democracy like ours, all such interventions are carried out by official bodies and with judicial authorization,” he said.
“In this case, neither of the two circumstances prevailed, which is why we have no doubt that it was an external intervention. We want the judiciary to investigate,” Bolanos said.
He did not say whether the Spanish authorities had any indication yet where the attack originated from or whether another country was behind it.
Bolanos said that Sanchez’s phone had been tapped in May 2021 and Robles’ in June of the same year.
“A determined amount of data” was extracted from both phones, he added.
“There is no evidence that there was other tapping after those dates.”
Official phones targeted
The El Pais newspaper said the hackers extracted 2.6 gigabytes of information from Sanchez’s phone and nine megabytes from Robles’s phone, but the government still does not know “the nature of the stolen information and the degree of sensitivity.”
The attack targeted their work phones provided by the state, not their private phones.
Bolanos said experts were checking whether other members of the Spanish government were targets of spying involving Pegasus.