Since Israeli-based NSO’s hacking software Pegasus was found to have been sold to questionable regimes, many countries have had their clandestine activities exposed.

The latest, in this line of misbehaving governments, is Poland’s nationalist government, trying to stem allegations that it improperly bought the software to spy on its opposition. On Monday, Deputy Minister Michal Woś tried to joke about the issue.

Woś tweeted a picture of the 1990s game Pegasus. He also called a report about the government choosing to use funds meant to compensate crime victims to buy the software, ‘rewarmed cutlet.’

Shady dealings

Just last week, Woś said that he did not know the system. The opposition begs to differ. Bogdan Zdrojewski, a senior MP with the opposition Civic Platform party, said the “Polish Watergate is expanding its reach,” adding that Pegasus was not just bought illegally but used illegally.

The money used to buy the software was handed over to the CBA anti-corruption agency in 2017 from a special justice ministry fund, to help crime victims. It is this money, a report by the Gazeta Wyborcza newspaper (opposition-aligned) says, that covered the €5.4 million (25 million zlotych) price tag.

An incriminating invoice

The Justice Ministry rebuffed the Gazeta Wyborcza, calling the report incorrect and saying that the Central Anticorruption Bureau did what it is supposed to do- fulfill its “statutory obligation to provide funds aimed at countering crime.”

Marian Banaś, head of the Supreme Audit Office (a government regulator that has not been on the ruling party’s good side for years), confirmed the purchase last week.

He said the agency found the invoice confirming the purchase during a 2019 probe of government finances. It was signed by Woś.