A SENIOR Catalan politician has warned his phone was targeted using spyware its makers say is only sold to governments to track criminals and terrorist.

Roger Torrent, the Catalan parliament’s speaker, and at least two other pro-independence figures were told they were targeted last year, an investigation by the Guardian and El Pais found.

Experts say it was a “possible case of domestic political espionage” in Europe.

The spyware exploited a previous vulnerability in WhatsApp software that would give the operator access to everything on the device. It could also have activated the voice recorder and camera, turning the phone into a listening device.

Torrent was warned about the software by researchers working with the app. He said he believes the “Spanish state” is behind the alleged attack.

WhatsApp says the attacks took place over two weeks from April to May 2019. At that time, 1400 of its users were allegedly targeted by “Pegasus” spyware sold by Israeli firm NSO Group.

READ MORE: Roger Torrent: Catalonia will not give up on independence

According to the app 100 people including journalists in India, activists in Morocco and diplomats are alleged to have been affected. WhatsApp has launched a lawsuit against NSO Group in the US. NSO Group insists its spyware is only sold to government clients to help them track down terrorists and criminals.

It said it does not know how those clients use its software.

The newspapers are not aware of any previous suggestions of European countries using the software in the 2019.

Torrent said: “It seems wrong that politicians are being spied on in a democracy with the rule of law.

“It also seems to me to be immoral for a huge amount of public money to be spent on buying software that can be used as a tool for the persecution of political dissidents.”

The politician said he will be seeking an investigation.

Spain’s National Intelligence Centre said in a statement that it acts “in full accordance with the legal system, and with absolute respect for the applicable laws” and is overseen by the country’s supreme court. However it did not respond to specific questions about NSO Group spyware.

Researchers at CitizenLab at the University of Toronto Munk School, who worked with WhatsApp after the alleged hacking was discovered, have told two other pro-indy figures that they were targeted.

Those figures were Anna Gabriel, a former MP for the leftist Popular Unity Candidacy who is now living in Switzerland after fleeing Spain due to her alleged involvement in the Catalan independence referendum, and independence activist Jordi Domingo.

Domingo said he does not think he is a key figure in the movement and suggested the true target of the hack may have been a well-known lawyer who goes by the same name, and helped to draft Catalonia’s constitution.

The Spanish PM’s office released a statement saying: “The government has no evidence that the speaker of the Catalan parliament, Roger Torrent, the former MP Anna Gabriel and the activist Jordi Domingo have been the targets of hacking via their mobiles.

“Furthermore, we must state that any operation involving a mobile phone is always conducted in accordance with the relevant judicial authorisation.”

NSO Group has denied allegations that is has responsibility for targeting of individuals.

In a US court filing it said: “Government customers do that, making all decisions about how to use the technology.

“If anyone installed Pegasus on any alleged “target devices” it was not [the] defendants [NSO Group]. It would have been an agency of a sovereign government.”

The firm told the newspaper it operates under “industry leading governance policies” and cannot confirm or deny which authorities use its software.

A spokesperson for NS Group said: "Once again speculative comments from CitizenLab only serve to highlight its continued, naive and ulterior agenda which fails to competently address the challenges faced by law enforcement agencies.”