Using spyware against journalists istotally unacceptable, the European Commission chief said on Monday after reports that Israeli spyware was used to hack the smartphones of journalists, government officials and rights activists worldwide.
“What we could read so far, and this has to be verified, but if it is the case, it is completely unacceptable. Against any kind of rules we have in the European Union,” Ursula von der Leyen said during a visit to Prague.
“Freedom of media, free press is one of the core values of the EU. It is completely unacceptable if this (hacking) were to be the case.”
An investigation by 17 media organizations published on Sunday said an Israeli company’s spyware was used in attempted and successful hacks of 37 smartphones belonging to journalists, government officials and human rights activists.
The investigation, which Reuters did not independently confirm, did not reveal who attempted the hacks or why.
The company licensing the spyware, NSO, said its product is intended only for use by government intelligence and law enforcement agencies to fight terrorism and crime.
The company issued a statement on its website denying the reporting by the 17 media partners led by the Paris-based journalism nonprofit Forbidden Stories.