picture of Lajos Kósa

After Fidesz politician Lajos Kósa’s explosive admission that the Hungarian government had used Pegasus to spy on prominent Hungarians, the manufacturer of the surveillance software proposed terminating the contract if it determined that the product’s terms of use had been abused.

Kósa, chair of Parliament’s Defense and Law Enforcement Committee, admitted this week that the Hungarian government had purchased the product from Israeli firm NSO through the Ministry of the Interior, but would not reveal why or whom against it was used.

As investigative journalists with Direkt36 uncovered this summer, Hungarian state agencies used Pegasus not only for its stated purpose, fighting terrorists and organized crime, but also for surveilling opposition politicians, journalists, lawyers and businessmen. Moreover, even economic titans connected to ruling party Fidesz were also found with the software on their devices.

After Kósa’s admission, news site 24.hu asked the Pegasus manufacturer whether there would be any consequences for the Hungarian government’s use of the software to monitor civilians.

The company responded in a statement “While we cannot refer to individual users under the terms of the contract and due to security provisions, we can ensure that NSO does not tolerate any misuse of its products. If such abuse is found, the company has appropriate sanctions in place, including termination of the contract.”

Meanwhile, Hungary’s political opposition continues to focus on the issue. The Democratic Coalition said on Saturday that it was still an open question exactly which agency had purchased Pegasus and what exactly was in the contract, and so has asked for official access to the documents.

[HVG]

By Steven N.

Steven is the editor-in-chief of Hungarian Politics. He has been following the political scene in Hungary and the Central European region more or less since 1994.