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Tag: Lajos Kósa

Lajos Kósa hospitalized with Covid

picture of Lajos Kósa

Fidesz politician and former mayor of Debrecen Lajos Kósa can’t seem to catch a break these days, it seems.

After coming under fire recently for revealing to reporters on Thursday that the government had indeed purchased the Pegasus surveillance software alleged by investigative outlet Direkt36, Kósa announced that he was being treated for the coronavirus.

A short post written in the third-person on the politician’s Facebook page says, “Caught the coronavirus. Being cared for in Kenézy [Hospital in Debrecen]. Tolerating it. Will be over it in a few days. Doctors say it would have been nasty without the vaccine.”

Kósa added that the virus is “hitting hard,” so anyone who hasn’t vaccinated themselves already should do so right away.


Pegasus manufacturer may break its contract with Hungary after Kósa’s admission

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 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.


Fallout from Kósa’s Pegasus admission continues

picture of Ágnes Vádai

Contradicting Lajos Kósa’s statement yesterday, the Interior Ministry (BM) did not purchase the Israeli Pegasus spy software, and Interior Minister Sándor Pintér will launch an investigation into whether Justice Minister Judit Varga committed some type of crime, said Vice President Ágnes Vadai of the Democratic Coalition (DK) on ATV’s Egyenes Beszéd (Straight Talk) program.

Defense and Law Enforcement Committee Chair Kósa told the press on Thursday that the government, more precisely the BM, had bought the software. János Stummer, chair of the National Security Committee, said that although he could confirm what Kósa had said, they could each receive up to 3 years in jail for disclosing classified information.

Vadai told Egyenes Beszéd that at Pintér’s hearing yesterday, the minutes of which will be kept secret until 2050, it was not stated that the BM had bought the software, but she was not able to say who signed the contract on the Hungarian side.

picture of Lajos Kósa
Lajos Kósa

Vadai also found it concerning that State Secretary Pál Völner had the power and responsibility to sign wiretapping permits instead of Justice Minister Judit Varga. She said that Pintér would investigate whether Varga committed an offense by delegating the task to the State Secretary.

According to Vadai’s interpretation of the National Security Act, the Minister of Justice does not have the right to permanently delegate this task. Duties such as these can only be delegated for a short period of time in the event of illness or absence.

The DK politician also pointed out that the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Foreign Affairs (KKM) may also have had something to do with the acquisition of Pegasus, citing “information from many sources.” [Telex]

Lajos Kósa admits that the government used Pegasus spy software for surveillance

picture of Lajos Kósa

Lajos Kósa, Chair of the Defense and Law Enforcement Committee, confessed to journalists following a hearing with Interior Minister Sándor Pintér that the Ministry of the Interior (BM) had purchased the Israeli Pegasus spyware, writes ATV.

“Was the Pegasus software obtained by the Department of the Interior?” asked a reporter from RTL Híradó, to which Kósa answered affirmatively.

According to Kósa, there is nothing objectionable about the purchase, as everything was lawful and the necessary permits were received from a judge and the Minister of Justice. He said members of the opposition-led National Security Committee had all had access to the documents.

Kósa also noted that large tech companies observe citizens much more widely than the state.

Following Kósa’s comments, the Ministry of the Interior wrote to Telex, “the Ministry has never commented on or qualified the statements made by members of parliament after committee meetings.”

“The Ministry of the Interior has stated, on many occasions, that Hungary’s democratic rule of law, national security and law enforcement services have not carried out illegal surveillance since 29 May 2010, and will not do in the future either,” said the Ministry’s statement.

In July, a series of fact-finding articles were published by Direkt36 together with a group of international journalists that Israeli NSO spyware Pegasus was used to monitor more than 50 countries, including Hungary. Targets included journalists and human rights defenders, but it was also revealed that Emmanuel Macron was also spied upon with the software.