Pegasus spyware used to ‘snoop’ on Indian journalists, activists

17 media groups across world collaborated to expose secret surveillance via victims’ phones

Updated - July 21, 2021 11:07 am IST

Published - July 19, 2021 12:12 am IST - NEW DELHI

An Israeli woman walks in front of the building housing the Israeli NSO group in Herzliya, near Tel Aviv. The spyware Pegasus is apparently sold to governments around the world by the NSO group. File

An Israeli woman walks in front of the building housing the Israeli NSO group in Herzliya, near Tel Aviv. The spyware Pegasus is apparently sold to governments around the world by the NSO group. File

Telephone numbers of some 40 Indian journalists figure in a “leaked list of potential targets for surveillance” and forensic tests were said to have “confirmed that some of them were successfully snooped upon by an unidentified agency using Pegasus softwareThe Wire , an independent news website, reported on Sunday night.

Indian ministers, government officials and opposition leaders also figure in the list of people whose phones may have been compromised by the spyware, The Wire , which conducted the investigation along with international partners, claimed.

Explained: Pegasus, the spyware that came in via WhatsApp

The leaked telephone numbers included correspondents and writers from the Hindustan Times, The Hindu, India Today, Indian Express and Network18. Vijaita Singh, who works for The Hindu ’s national bureau, also figures in the list, which includes journalists like Shishir Gupta, Siddharth Vardarajan, M.K. Venu, Sushant Singh, Rohini Singh, Muzamil Jaleel, Ritika Chopra and Swati Chaturvedi.

The spyware Pegasus is apparently sold to governments around the world by NSO group , an Israeli company. It can be used to snoop on phones that run on Android and iOS systems.

Seventeen international media groups, including The Guardian and The Washington Post , led the investigation into how Pegasus was used to allegedly extract messages and information from the phones of journalists, politicians and activists.

 

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