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Criticism – Controversy over Kurtz’s mention in the EU report on spyware

Criticism – Controversy over Kurtz’s mention in the EU report on spyware

The European Union Parliament’s report on the use of “Pegasus” spyware in European countries sparked controversy. According to the “Standard” (online), before Monday’s vote, the European People’s Party (EPP) tried to delete passages containing references to former Chancellor Sebastian Kurz’s (ÖVP) business ties in the Israeli Pegasus environment. NSO. Despite the ÖVP’s criticism, the report was accepted on Monday evening.

The warnings about Kurz’s links to Israeli entrepreneur and NSO co-founder Shalev Hulio are “totally irrelevant and not part of the subject matter of the investigation,” European Parliament member Lukas Mandel criticized the ÖVP in relation to the “standard”. Kors previously confirmed that Hulio has now left NSO. The former chancellor also refused contacts with the controversial Austrian software company DSIRF mentioned in the report via a spokesperson on Monday evening. The spokesperson said Kurz had never heard of the company.

According to the “Standard”, the former chancellor’s name was mentioned eleven times in the report of the European Parliament’s Investigative Committee Pegasus. Among other things, the text refers to businessman Siegfried Wolf as an economic advisor to Kurz. According to “Standard”, the European People’s Party also demanded that this clip be deleted. Until 2018, Wolf was chairman of the board of directors of Russian Machines, which is credited to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska.

Rapporteur Hannah Newman was not satisfied with the “standard” on EPP’s demands for deletion. The member of the European Parliament from the Green Party that “the sentence in question in the report on Austria was never up for discussion during the negotiations.” “The fact that the executive vice president now wants to open this barrel shows once again how drained the ÖVP is: it’s not about the truth, nor about protecting fundamental freedoms, it’s just about somehow saving his own shattered image.”

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The EU’s deputy vice-president, Hans Hyde, also criticized the request: “The reference in the report to former Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz, and his business ties with NSO founder Shalev Hulio and US billionaire Peter Thiel, were in the months of 15 rounds of negotiations,” he stressed in a radio statement on Monday. The two stressed that the final report will never be subject to discussion. The goal of the investigation committee’s work is a real and comprehensive clarification.

According to the “Standard”, several other parts of the 163-page report not related to Austria were also disputed. This was evidenced by several previously put forward modifications.

It was also announced on Monday that software company DSIRF, described in the report as “based in Austria,” is withdrawing from the German-speaking region. The company ended up on Microsoft’s warning list last year because its so-called “Subzero” Trojan horse had infiltrated several law firms, among other things. Then the Directorate of State Intelligence and Security (DSN) began an investigation.

Activities are now suspended. The company’s management feels they are being treated unfairly – especially since “Subzero” was developed exclusively for use by authorities to combat cybercrime. The owner said: “People prefer to buy non-controllable software from third countries like the US or Israel – that seems desirable. That’s why we say goodbye to the German-speaking region with a huge financial loss.” It is only designated by the letter D, opposite “Profile” (online).

The use of the controversial spyware “Pegasus” in some European Union countries, which was revealed in 2020, has prompted an investigation in the European Parliament. The draft report of the Commission of Inquiry (PEGA), which became known in November last year, states that “the governments of the EU member states have used spyware against their citizens for political purposes.” There are similar indicators for Poland, Hungary, Greece, Cyprus and Spain. (appa)

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