Pegasus spying: Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi, Bharatiya Janata Party ministers Ashwini Vaishnav and Prahlad Singh Patel, former election commissioner Ashok Lavasa and election strategist Prashant Kishor are among those whose phone numbers were listed for hacking through Israeli spyware. . An international media association gave this information on Monday.
The ‘The Wire’ news portal reported in the second part of an international joint investigation titled Pegasus Project that Trinamool Congress (TMC) MP Abhishek Banerjee and former Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, nephew of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, were accused of 11 phone numbers linked to a Supreme Court employee and her relatives, who had alleged sexual harassment in the U.S., were the target of hackers.
Government dismissed reports of espionage
The government has rubbished reports of Indian spying using Pegasus, saying the allegations leveled just before the monsoon session of Parliament are an attempt to tarnish the image of Indian democracy.
Information Technology and Communications Minister Ashwini Vaishnav, in his statement given in the Lok Sabha on the basis of suo motu, said that when there is already a system of control and surveillance in the country, then illegal surveillance by unauthorized person is not possible.
The Wire said that Vaishnav, who recently became minister, was also among the 300 verified Indian numbers listed as a possible target for surveillance during 2017-2019 by a client of the Israel-based NSO Group.
Congress demands probe into PM Modi’s role
Despite Vaishnav’s statement in the Lok Sabha in the Pegasus case, there was a lot of uproar in Parliament on the first day of the monsoon session. When the Congress demanded the dismissal of Home Minister Amit Shah and an inquiry into the role of Prime Minister Narendra Modi over this episode, the BJP targeted the opposition party on this issue and claimed that the Pegasus spying case could harm the ruling party or the Modi government. There is no evidence of linkage.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah said in a strong statement that the report about alleged espionage has been pushed by some people whose sole aim is to do everything possible to humiliate India on the world stage. Shah said, “This is the report of the disruptors to the detractors. There are disruptive global organizations that do not like India’s progress.” He said, “The detractors are political players in India who do not want India to progress. The people of India understand this ‘chronology’ and relationship very well.
The Wire released the latest part of the investigation, saying that at least two mobile phone numbers used by former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi were potentially targeted by “an official Indian client of Israel’s surveillance technology vendor group NSO”. was listed as.
Forensic inspection of cross-sections of phones taken from this list by Amnesty International’s technical lab has confirmed the presence of Pegasus spyware in 37 devices, of which 10 are in India.
Rahul Gandhi’s phone could not be investigated
The report said Gandhi was not among those whose phone numbers were checked as he no longer had the handsets he used when his numbers were targeted from mid-2018 to mid-2019. had chosen to make.
According to the report, in the absence of a forensic investigation, it is not possible to establish with certainty whether Pegasus was asked to target Gandhi or not.
An investigation report by Paris-based non-profit media organization Forbidden Stories and rights group Amnesty was reported by The Wire news portal in India and 16 other international publications including The Washington Post, The Guardian and Le Monde. Published as Partner. The report said the Israeli surveillance company had listed more than 50,000 phone numbers from around the world to be targeted through NSO Group’s Pegasus software.
The Wire said that apart from Gandhi and Union ministers Vaishnav and Prahlad Singh Patel, among those whose phone numbers were listed were Jagdeep Chhokar, founder of election watchdog Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), and Jagdeep Chhokar. Top Virologist Gagandeep Kang.
Praveen Togadia’s name also in the list
According to the report, the list included the names of Vasundhara Raje Scindia’s personal secretary as Chief Minister of Rajasthan and Sanjay Kachru, who was her Officer on Special Duty (OSD) during Smriti Irani’s first stint as a Union minister from 2014 to 2019. The list also included the phone numbers of other junior leaders associated with the Bharatiya Janata Party and Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Pravin Togadia.
The news portal said that the list shows that several people associated with the functioning of the election were also targeted for possible surveillance, including Lavasa. Lavasa was the only member of the 3-member Election Commission to admit that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had violated the model code of conduct while campaigning for the 2019 general elections.
Gandhi told The Wire that he had received suspicious WhatsApp messages in the past and used to change numbers from time to time, making it “a bit difficult” for him to target.
Rahul Gandhi said this thing
When asked about his reaction to the news, Rahul Gandhi told The Wire, “The targeted surveillance that you are referring to is in relation to me or other opposition leaders or any other law abiding Indian citizen. regard is illegal and reprehensible.”
The former Congress chief said, “If your information is correct, this matter is more than an attack on the privacy of an individual. It is an attack on the democratic foundation of our country. It should be thoroughly investigated and those responsible should be identified and addressed.” should be punished.”