Poland - September 2023
Illegally purchased spyware used to discredit opponents, Senate investigation finds
An investigation by the Senate Commission has found that the government’s purchase of Pegasus spyware was illegal, citing insufficient security oversight to protect classified information. The report of the Commission’s findings further concluded that, once unlawfully procured, the use of Pegasus against opposition leaders compromised the fairness of the 2019 elections. The report is the result of an 18-month probe conducted by the opposition-controlled Senate. The Commission decided to inform prosecutors of its findings, identifying current and former ministers for investigation for potential criminal activity. The report follows a May inquiry by the European Parliament which found that Poland had used spyware to discredit critics and opposition leaders, and revelations in 2022 that Pegasus had been used against Senator Krzysztof Brejza, when he was coordinating the opposition’s 2019 election campaign.
Ruling party faces corruption allegations linked to the visa system
The government has come under fire for allegedly granting temporary work visas in exchange for bribes via the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and its network of consulates, according to Polish media reports. The scandal has culminated in the resignation of the deputy foreign minister responsible for consular affairs (and his removal from the ruling PiS party’s electoral lists) and the indictment of seven officials. Donald Tusk, leader of the main opposition KO party, has accused PiS of hypocrisy, given the party’s anti-immigrant platform and campaign around illegal immigration ahead of elections in October. EU officials have sought clarifications, recalling Poland’s obligations as a member of Schengen, the bloc’s free movement zone, and raising concerns over compliance with EU law. Poland’s anti-corruption body has launched an investigation, and the government has launched an audit at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and all consular posts.