Use of spyware against journalists is “totally unacceptable” – von der Leyen from the EU

The use of spyware against journalists would be completely unacceptable, the head of the European Commission said on Monday after reports that spyware from an Israeli company was used to hack the smartphones of journalists, government officials and others. human rights activists from around the world.

FILE PHOTO: European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen welcomes Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen (not pictured) to Brussels, Belgium, July 13, 2021. REUTERS / Pascal Rossignol / Pool

PRAGUE – The use of spyware against journalists is completely unacceptable, the head of the European Commission said on Monday after reports that Israeli spyware had been used to hack the smartphones of journalists, government officials and militants. human rights around the world.

“What we have been able to read so far, and it needs to be checked, but if it does, it is totally unacceptable. Against any kind of rules we have in the European Union,” said Ursula von der Leyen during a visit to Prague.

“Freedom of the media, freedom of the press is one of the fundamental values ​​of the EU. It is totally unacceptable that this (piracy) is the case.”

An investigation by 17 media organizations released on Sunday found that spyware from an Israeli company was used in successful attempts to hack 37 smartphones belonging to journalists, government officials and human rights activists.

The investigation, which Reuters has not independently confirmed, did not reveal who attempted the hacks or why.

The company that licensed the spyware, NSO, said its product was only intended for use by government intelligence and law enforcement agencies to fight terrorism and crime.

The company published a statement on its website denying the reporting of the 17 media partners led by the Paris-based non-profit journalism association Forbidden Stories.

(Report by Robert Muller, written by Jan Lopatka, edited by Gareth Jones and Mark Heinrich)

Comments are closed.