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Brussels probes Cyprus link to Pegasus spyware

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An EU probe committee will visit Cyprus on a fact-finding mission to establish a link to Israel’s Pegasus spyware, used across the continent in a ground-shaking surveillance scandal.

It is estimated that over 50,000 telephone numbers, mainly journalists, activists, and politicians, are being monitored through the software.

France’s Le Monde said those targeted include the mobile phone numbers of European Council President Charles Michel and French President Emmanuel Macron, who took part in the investigation.

In Greece, spyware was used to monitor opposition party leaders and journalists.

According to reports, the European Parliament has turned its eyes to Cyprus and Greece due to alleged connections between the surveillance of Greek journalists and politicians.

Greek journalist Thanasis Koukakis and Socialist Greek MEP and president of KINAL-PASOK Nikos Androulakis were targeted by the spyware with links to a company that has been active in Cyprus.

Two officials in Athens have resigned in the wake of revelations that the country’s intelligence service tapped the phones of an opposition politician and a journalist, allegedly using spyware known as Pegasus.

Pegasus is linked to Cyprus’ infamous spy van case, which AKEL had reported in 2019.

In August, AKEL MEP George Georgiou called on the European Parliament to put Cyprus under the microscope and called for an on-site investigation concerning the eavesdropping scandal raging in Greece.

Georgiou believes there is a possible link between the ‘spy van’ affair and Greece.

The company which created the surveillance software in Greece was founded by the former Israeli spy Tal Dilian, the main defendant in the Cyprus black van case.

Headed by the former Israeli intelligence agent, WiSpear, a company specialised in providing end-to-end WiFi interception and security solutions, was reportedly the owner of the black van.

Last year, the data protection watchdog imposed an administrative fine of €925,000 on WiSpear for GDPR violations.

The Commissioner for the Protection of Personal Data said WiSpear’s van collected multiple devices’ Media Access Control (MAC) addresses and International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI).

In 2019, Cyprus police launched an investigation into the import of meteorological equipment that later emerged as spyware used to intercept information and breaches of sensitive personal data.

A state-of-the-art spy van capable of hacking any mobile phone was impounded in Larnaca by police during an investigation.

Charges against Dilian and two other defendants were dropped.

Legal issues have dogged the ‘spy van’ probe.

The fact-finding mission is most likely to take place in early November.