Phone of top Catalan politician 'targeted by government-grade spyware'
Exclusive: Guardian and El País find regional speaker was targeted in ‘possible domestic political espionage’
One of Catalonia’s most senior politicians has been warned his mobile phone was targeted using spyware its makers say is only sold to governments to track criminals and terrorists.
A joint investigation by the Guardian and El País has revealed that the speaker of the Catalan regional parliament, Roger Torrent and at least two other pro-independence supporters were told they were targeted last year in what experts said was a “possible case of domestic political espionage” in Europe.
According to a US lawsuit, the spyware exploited a previous vulnerability in WhatsApp software that would have given the operator potential access to everything on the target’s mobile phone – including emails, text messages and photographs. It could also have turned on the phone’s recorder and camera, turning it into a listening device.
Torrent, who was warned about the targeting by researchers working with WhatsApp, said it seemed clear the “Spanish state” was behind the alleged attack on his phone, and that he believed it had most likely occurred without any judicial authority.
Roger Torrent said ‘any democrat should feel very uncomfortable’ over the alleged attack.
Photograph: Quique García/EPA