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- The first contract for Pegasus included 40 licenses to be used over the span of three years. Then, in the fall of 2020, it was extended, but I can no longer recall whether it was for the same number of licenses- says a confidential source who worked with the Warsaw-based company MATIC in late 2017 and early 2018.

The company was a link in the transaction between the Central Anticorruption Bureau (CBA) and the Israeli company NSO Group, which sold the mobile spyware to the Polish services. As "Wyborcza" reported, MATIC was founded by people associated with the communist-era militia and secret police.

A license to spy

According to our source, "one license is meant for one object". – We call it a "context", to be precise – the source adds. This is a very broad concept. It means that a single license not only allows to target a specific phone number or device but also enables to retrieve data from other numbers and devices related to it. In this way, the scale of surveillance extends to more people who, for example, create closed groups on messaging apps such as WhatsApp or Signal, or forward messages to each other via email.

- A "context" can cover multiple devices, but their number is limited - a former intelligence officer familiar with operational technology points out.

Using Pegasus spyware is a rather expensive business. The purchase of Pegasus itself cost the Polish state PLN 25 million. Costs associated with introducing or testing the system were an additional PLN 8 million. A single license costs over PLN 500,000.

A former MATIC associate says the company's IT staff helped the CBA get Pegasus up and running and offered technical support for individual licenses on an ongoing basis. Both the entire company and the service technicians involved have certified access to classified information. – When we were talking about it among ourselves, we said that "PiS is mostly spying on its own people", and that the opposition is only further down the line - our source points out.

These people should not be allowed to have strictly classified knowledge about who is being cased out by the CBA - say the former heads of services who commented on this issue, including Paweł Wojtunik (CBA) and Krzysztof Bondaryk (ABW).

Former PiS spokesman under surveillance

The Polish spyware scandal broke out in December 2021. The Associated Press revealed that the Pegasus surveillance system had been used dozens of times in 2019 to surveil the oppositional senator Krzysztof Brejza (at a time when he was running the Civic Coalition's election campaign), and later to track the high-profile lawyer Roman Giertych and prosecutor Ewa Wrzosek.

Our source claims that when CBA started using the spyware at the turn of 2018, it chose Adam Hofman as one of its first targets. Hofman is a former MP and spokesman for the ruling Law and Justice party who, after leaving politics, founded a PR company called R4S. The company had a lot of influence and signed contracts with multiple state-run companies, which bothered many people in the ruling camp. The CBA's crackdown on Hofman and his associates began back in 2016, before the purchase of Pegasus spyware.

According to our information, the CBA targeted, among others, Hofman's friend and former MP Mariusz Antoni K. and Dawid Jackiewicz, the former Minister of State Treasury dismissed in 2016. In the summer of 2021, the prosecution accused Mariusz Antoni K. and Bartłomiej M., former spokesman and head of the Defense Minister’s office, of exposing the Polish Armament Group to loss of PLN 1.2 million, as well as corruption. CBA conducted an investigation into their case. 

"Agent Tomek"

Another "context" includes Katarzyna Kaczmarek, officially under investigation for irregularities regarding the charity she ran in Olsztyn with Tomasz Kaczmarek, a former CBA agent, and Law and Justice party MP.

According to our sources, the ruling party was afraid of the inside knowledge the Kaczmarek family possessed about Mariusz Kamiński, the coordinator of the special services and head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. "Agent Tomek" used to be one of his most trusted people.

Katarzyna Kaczmarek, in turn, became acquainted with many of the ruling camp’s secrets while she was working for the Law and Justice party headquarters and its vice-president Adam Lipiński. She was also working for the PiS parliamentary club.

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Every day, 400 journalists at Gazeta Wyborcza write verified, fact-checked stories about Polish politics and society, keeping a critical eye on the ruling camp’s persistent assault on democratic values and the rule of law; the growing cultural tension between religious fundamentalism and human rights; and the ongoing COVID-19 epidemic. Our journalists are on the front lines in 25 Polish cities, reporting from the streets, hospitals, and courtrooms about issues that move public opinion.

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