A group of Catalan separatists, including several members of the European Parliament, other politicians, lawyers and activists from Spain’s northeastern region, had their phones hacked with a controversial spyware called Pegasus, a cybersecurity firm said Monday.
Citizens Lab, which is associated with the University of Toronto, said at least 65 people were targeted using the Israeli-made software that is only available to governments.
The maker of the software, NSO, said the allegations were “false.”
The spyware infections allegedly took place between 2017 and 2020 after a failed Catalan independence bid.
The movement for an independent Catalonia dates back more than a century and has been a problem for Spain’s central government. Catalonia enjoys some regional autonomy under the Spanish constitution.
Citizens Lab said it could not pinpoint the source of the hacking but said on its website that “a range of circumstantial evidence points to a strong nexus with one or more entities within the Spanish government.”
The Spanish government declined a request for comment by Reuters.
On Twitter, Catalonian government President Pere Aragones called the hacks an “unjustifiable disgrace.”
Some information in this report comes from Reuters and The Associated Press.