On Sunday, 18 international media outlets simultaneously covered the incident with the help of Forbidden Stories, a Paris-based non-profit news agency. According to the report, 36 journalists, government officials and human rights activists have been eavesdropped on the smartphones of Israeli technology company NSO Group using spyware.
According to India’s news-based website The Wire, more than 40 journalists in India have been eavesdropped on by spyware using Pegasus. Among them is Rahul Gandhi, a senior leader of the country’s main opposition party, the Congress. Apart from this, from 2016 to 2019, at least 300 Indian numbers were eavesdropped on the national election. The Israeli company NSO, however, claims that it has developed the technology to assist government intelligence agencies and law enforcement in combating terrorism and crime.
The government is deliberately eavesdropping on the phone calls of opposition leaders, anti-Modi journalists, human rights activists and political leaders. In a statement, the Congress said it was an attack on the country’s democratic institutions. They say the government has illegally leaked information to various people to spy on the phone through Pegasus spyware.
India’s Union Information and Technology Minister Ashwini Vishnu on Monday denied the allegations. He said the central and state agencies of India would be able to investigate any type of electronic communication in the interest of the security of the country and the people. Referring to it as a valid process, he claimed that there was no illegal eavesdropping.
Minister Vishnu’s own phone was also eavesdropped on, according to various Indian media reports, but the matter could not be confirmed. The country’s government has denied the allegations, saying no Indian state agency bought Pegasus spyware for surveillance.