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9th September, 2021

New evidence of Pegasus surveillance of journalist



The investigative news website Direkt36 has evidence that the spy software Pegasus developed by Israeli company NSO was recently deployed in Hungary.

The website reports that the spyware was implanted in the smartphone belonging to Zoltan Pava, an ex-Socialist politician who runs the pro-opposition website Ezalenyeg, more than once last spring.

Experts from Amnesty International and Canadian research group Citizen Lab found that Pegasus was present on the phone on March 16-24 and May 23-27.

It is not known what data the hackers wanted to obtain, but it is certain that they had access to everything that was available on the device. The phone’s microphone and its camera may have been turned on remotely by the spyware.

The Pegasus story erupted in July, when an international team of journalists discovered a database containing 50,000 telephone numbers that may have been monitored via the spyware, including 300 in Hungary belonging to journalists, opposition politicians and business figures. Pava’s phone was not among them because it is supposed that the database was leaked before he became a target.

There is a great deal of information suggesting that Hungarian state bodies could be behind the use of Pegasus in Hungary, Telex writes.

Earlier, a former Hungarian intelligence officer told Direkt36 that, according to his information, national security agencies had started using Pegasus, which in principle the developer may only sell to government clients, in 2018.

A former employee of NSO also confirmed that Hungary had purchased the Pegasus service.

Since the outbreak of the case, no representative of the Hungarian government has clearly denied that the Hungarian state is a client of NSO, nor that they have targeted the people mentioned by Hungarian media.

Pava said it is “desperate and frightening” that in Hungary if a journalist, lawyer or businessman does not think what the governing side does, and expresses it, this can be a reason for surveillance.

“I am definitely not scared and this is why I want what happened to be made public because I have nothing to hide,” he declared. (telex.hu; hvg.hu; index.hu; hang.hu; hirklikk.hu; atv.hu)
9th September, 2021

National security committee convened



Parliament’s national security committee chairman Janos Stummer, a Jobbik MP, is convening the committee for September 20 to ask the ministers affected about the use of Pegasus spyware in Hungary, Magyar Narancs reports.

Stummer said he expects Interior Minister Sandor Pinter, Justice Minister Judit Varga, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto and Defence Minister Tibor Benko to be present at the meeting.

“The committee must hold a meeting every year at which the ministers responsible for the secret services report on the work done and questions can be put to them. I am convening this meeting for September 20,” Stummer said.

He said Pinter, Szijjarto and Benko are legally obliged to appear before the committee.

Szijjarto earlier said that he knows of no “presumed data collection,” Varga referred to the rule of law and pointed to Pinter as competent in the matter, who once said he does not claim that Hungarian state authorities did not use the spy software. (magyarnarancs.hu; 444.hu; hang.hu; telex.hu)
9th September, 2021

Maruzsa: no precautions in schools



The number of coronavirus patients receiving medical treatment in hospital is rising slowly but gradually but according to every indication the cabinet will not order the wearing of masks nor social distancing in schools, Telex reports.

Education state secretary Zoltan Maruzsa told Inforadio on Wednesday that masks will not be made mandatory in schools as protection is based on inoculation.

Hungary is the only country in the region that started the new school year without any restriction measures in place, Portfolio observes.

“I consider it an unequivocal success that we were able to launch live classes last week practically without any problems,” Maruzsa said.

He added that anybody can apply to be vaccinated in the future but he sees no sense in launching another campaign.

Some 48,000 pupils over 12 years of age were inoculated in the first week of the school year, and 185,000 pupils were vaccinated prior to that.

Maruzsa said vaccination will be opened to those under 12 once it becomes scientifically approved, but there are no plans to make it mandatory.

He added that 85-90% of teachers have been inoculated, which represents a much higher degree of protection, a higher proportion than the national average.

He then affirmed that body temperatures will not be gauged, masks will not have to be worn, nor will social distancing rules be imposed in the first term of the school year. (infostart.hu; telex.hu; portfolio.hu/en; atv.hu; klubradio.hu; penzcentrum.hu)
9th September, 2021

Karacsony first on primary ballots



Lots were drawn for the order of the prime ministerial candidates on voters’ ballots for the primary at noon on Wednesday.

Accordingly, the order is as follows:

- Gergely Karacsony (Socialist-Dialogue-LMP)

- Peter Marki-Zay (Everybody’s Hungary)

- Andras Fekete-Gyor (Momentum)

- Klara Dobrev (Democratic Coalition)

- Peter Jakab (Jobbik).

The parties taking part in the primary set for September 18-26 said in a statement that the event shows well that the opposition party alliance is committed to democratic values, something the primary is about: “the parties opted for the vision of democracy, co-operation, creating opportunities, a more equal society and the unseating of the present cabinet.” (atv.hu; index.hu)


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