‘Quite why we left’ Guy Verhofstadt’s bid to blast EU’s ‘dictatorship’ backfires

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The Belgian MEP called for a full inquiry into the Hungarian Government following allegations it had used Israeli software to spy on journalists. Mr Verhofstadt wrote on Twitter: “No more ‘deeply concerned’…. the EU has a dictatorship growing inside of it.

“We need a full inquiry by the European Parliament!”

But his outcry backfired as British Twitter users promptly pointed out corruption within the EU is the exact reason Brexiteers voted to leave the bloc.

One user wrote: “Last time I checked that ‘dictator’ was democratically elected, unlike…”

And another: “Only one, Guy? The whole EU project was a ‘dictatorship’ in recent years.

“Quite why we chose to leave, and others will surely follow!”

Someone else added: “Sometimes Guy you let the light in. Why the UK left.

“But more importantly, if a person in Sunderland can see it (the first to declare in 2016) why can’t you?”

Another user pointed out: “He’s elected. Your bosses ain’t.”

And another one said: “The EU definitely has a dictatorship growing inside of it and it’s being coordinated by the EU Commission.

“A group of ‘untouchables’ who are seemingly accountable to no one!”

The European Union on Monday condemned any spying on journalists, after reports that Israeli software had been 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,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said during a visit to Prague.

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“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 published on Sunday by 17 media organisations, led by the Paris-based non-profit journalism group Forbidden Stories, said spyware made and licensed by the Israeli company NSO had been used in attempted and successful hacks of 37 smartphones belonging to journalists, government officials and human rights activists.

NSO said its product was intended only for use by vetted government intelligence and law enforcement agencies to fight terrorism and crime.

In a statement on its website, it said the information provided by the consortium’s sources “has no factual basis”.

The investigation did not reveal who had attempted the hacks or why.

The Hungarian investigative website Direkt36, part of the consortium, said the more than 300 targets in Hungary included journalists, businesspeople, lawyers and critics of Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government.

Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said Hungary was unaware of the reported surveillance attempts but that he had asked the head of the Hungarian Information Office, a secret service under his supervision, to investigate.

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