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Sunday, December 3, 2023

Pegasus Project: Spyware Scandal targeting Indian & Pakistani leadership

In a global scandal involving an Israeli spyware firm, it has now been discovered that Pakistan & India's top leadership was also being targeted.

NSO Group‘s spyware has been used to facilitate human rights violations worldwide on a massive scale. These include heads of state, activists, and journalists, including Jamal Khashoggi’s family. However, according to the latest development, even some country’s top leadership was being targeted.

Paris-based journalism nonprofit, Forbidden Stories revealed that The Pegasus Project is a ground-breaking collaboration by more than 80 journalists from 17 media organizations in 10 countries with the technical support of Amnesty International.

They conducted cutting-edge forensic tests on mobile phones to identify traces of the spyware. “The Pegasus Project lays bare how NSO’s spyware is a weapon of choice for repressive governments seeking to silence journalists, attack activists and crush dissent, placing countless lives in peril,” said Agnès Callamard, Secretary-General of Amnesty International.

Read More: Allegations Indian govt tapped phone of Indian leading journalist

In the latest development, it has been discovered that potential targets of Israeli spyware include Modi’s biggest rival, Rahul Gandhi, and even some critical people in Pakistan’s Imran Khan administration.

According to The Guardian, the numbers “strongly indicate that intelligence agencies within the Indian government were operating the system.”

Among those potentially targeted in India were two of Gandhi’s closest advisors – Alankar Sawai and Sachin Rao – and Ashok Lavasa, a senior Indian election official.

Rahul Gandhi, who admitted to changing phones every few months to avoid this very situation, said in response: “Targeted surveillance of the type you describe, whether in regard to me, other leaders of the opposition or indeed any law-abiding citizen of India, is illegal and deplorable.”

“If your information is correct, the scale and nature of surveillance you describe goes beyond an attack on the privacy of individuals. It is an attack on the democratic foundations of our country. It must be thoroughly investigated, and those responsible be identified and punished.”

In response, the NSO called the entire investigation an “international conspiracy.”

Read More: Pakistan asks FATF to take action against “Indian sponsored terrorism”

“The report by Forbidden Stories is full of wrong assumptions and uncorroborated theories that raise serious doubts about the reliability and interests of the sources. It seems like the ‘unidentified sources’ have supplied information that has no factual basis and are far from reality,” the company said in the statement.

“After checking their claims, we firmly deny the false allegations made in their report.”

Also, in response to the Washington Post, India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology said the claim that specific people were targeted “had no concrete basis or truth associated with it whatsoever.” They further added, “any interception, monitoring or decryption of any information through any computer resource is done as per due process of law.”