Were Catalan separatists spied on by the Spanish government? In any case, this is what the former Catalan regional president Carles Puigdemont denounces. A report from a specialized laboratory at the University of Toronto claims that several personalities have been targeted by the Pegasus spyware.
“We have been massively and illegally spied on by means of a program (of espionage, editor’s note) that only the State can have”, launched on Twitter this Monday April 18, 2022 Carles Puigdemont, former president of the generality of Catalonia.
Members of the European Parliament, Catalan presidents, legislators, lawyers and members of civil society organizations have reportedly been targeted by the Pegasus spyware, unknowingly installed on their mobile phones. In any case, this is revealed by a report by the specialized laboratory “Citizen Lab” in collaboration with groups from Catalan civil society.
These are at least 63 people who would have been targeted by the spyware. In its report, the independent laboratory evokes “solid circumstantial evidence” of a link with “the Spanish authorities”. But no fixed conclusion is drawn on the responsibilities. The report has been validated by experts in the field at Amnesty International.
The installation of the spyware was done massively, without any trace. This veritable snitch was able to install itself thanks to the exploitation of a zero-day vulnerability, a computer flaw known only to Pegasus developers. The majority of hacks happened between 2017 and 2020.
A state process
According to AFP quoted by several media, many relatives of Carles Puigdemont were targeted by this attack. Namely, Pere Aragoné, current Catalan regional president, Quim Torra and Artur Mas, former regional presidents. Several MEPs were also targeted by the spyware, as was the wife of Carles Puigdemont.
In addition to the evidence of a mass infection, the Citizen Lab report points to the complexity of such targeting. Only a state can be behind an attack of such magnitude. Asked by our colleagues from AFP, the Spanish government did not react on Monday, April 18.