Spain reopens Israeli spyware probe, sharing information with France

By Thomson Reuters Apr 23, 2024 | 9:20 AM

MADRID (Reuters) – Spain’s High Court on Tuesday reopened an investigation into the use of Israeli cyber-intelligence firm NSO Group’s Pegasus software to spy on Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and other Spanish politicians.

The investigators will share information with France, where politicians and other figures were also targeted. The probe aims to find out who was behind the snooping. No one has yet been accused.

In 2022, the government said software from NSO Group was used to spy on ministers, triggering a political crisis in Spain that led to the resignation of its spy chief.

The government did not elaborate on whether foreign or Spanish groups were suspected of being behind the espionage.

The High Court started to investigate the matter but shelved the case last year after saying Israeli authorities did not cooperate.

But Judge Jose Luis Calama decided to reopen its probe after France sent him details of its own investigation into the use of Pegasus software to spy on phones belonging to reporters, lawyers and public figures as well as members of the French government and politicians in 2021.

French President Emmanuel Macron changed his mobile phone and phone number in light of the Pegasus spyware case.

Calama said on Tuesday that comparing the Spanish findings with technical data France had sent could help move the case forward.

The judge ordered an expert analysis to cross the technical elements collected in the French and Spanish investigations and to determine the authorship of the cyber attacks.

Calama said he expected a more extensive exchange of information with French authorities once the analysis was completed.

“All of this will allow for joint and coordinated action by the French and Spanish judicial authorities in order to determine the authorship of the infestation carried out through the Pegasus spy programme in both France and Spain,” he said.

(Reporting by Emma Pinedo; Editing by Angus MacSwan)