Pegasus Surveillance

What happened in Hungary since the Pegasus spyware revelations

The Hungarian broker company involved in the purchase of the spyware that hacked phones launched a series of lawsuits against us and other media outlets, but lost all of them. In the meantime, however, real investigation into the circumstances of the surveillance has been very slow due to the authorities’ resistance. Direkt36 summarizes the most important developments two years after the scandal broke.

The inside story of how Pegasus was brought to Hungary

Direkt36 has revealed that the cyber weapon was purchased by the Hungarian state through a broker company that later became partly owned by Minister of Interior Sándor Pintér’s close confidant, László Tasnádi, who once worked for the Communist state security apparatus. The company also involved a businessman who had previous ties to the current left-wing opposition. Pegasus was considered such an expensive and top-class weapon by the intelligence agencies that it was kept secret even in internal circles.

Cables show how Orbán’s diplomats gather information on journalists

The information contained in these documents was gathered by diplomats of the Orbán government from social media profiles of journalists or online reports, as well as by inquiring foreign government officials.

The attorney became a Pegasus target when one of Hungary’s most notorious murder cases took a turn

Ilona Patócs is not the first lawyer to be targeted, despite the fact that protecting client communication is an essential part of her job, Direkt36 has learned. Nor is she the only target to have been involved in a Portik case.

Former Hungarian ambassador to China was targeted with Pegasus – shortly before becoming senior advisor to Orbán

Cecília Szilas is not the first high-ranking Hungarian official who was targeted with the Pegasus spyware. Her phone was added to the list during her stint at a conflict-ridden company called Dunaferr, shortly before becoming the Prime Minister’s senior advisor on China.

Another Pegasus target with political ties: a lawyer who oversees elections and worked for opposition party Jobbik

László Vértesy was targeted in the fall of 2018 when he was still the owner and director of an institute that had helped opposition party Jobbik in the last parliamentary election campaign.

Hungarian president’s closest bodyguards targeted with Pegasus spyware

Targeting the president’s bodyguards may have been related to the internal struggle within the security agencies, which intensified after the Counter Terrorism Center wanted to find out the details of President János Áder’s schedules, a Direkt36 investigation has found. Even the smallest details of Áder’s activity could be monitored through the surveillance of his bodyguards with Pegasus.

Orbán’s ally told Hungarian intelligence services that opposition is the greatest national security threat, leaked recording reveals

Direkt36 has obtained a recording of the speech that Speaker of the Parliament László Kövér gave in February 2020 to the leaders of Hungary’s national security leadership. He told them that he has great trust in them that they will deal with the danger the opposition means to Hungary.

Hungarian intel officer involved in spyware operations appears on Pegasus list

The telephone number of an intelligence officer at the Special Service for National Security (SSNS), which conducts secret surveillance and interceptions, also appears in the list of Pegasus spyware targets, a Direkt36 investigation has found.

In Israel, Pegasus was developed to counter terrorism. In Hungary, a top counter-terrorism official became its target

Former deputy head of Hungary’s Counter Terrorism Centre Zsolt Bodnár was selected for targeting with the Israeli spyware. Direkt36 found out that when this happened, Bodnár had a conflict with his boss, the Head of Counter Terrorism, who is also Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s former chief bodyguard.