Pegasus spyware used to pry on Indian journalists, ministers

Pegasus spyware has been used to conduct surveillance on ministers, opposition leaders, journalists, government officials and scientists of India.

Key Points

  • Phone numbers of around 40 Indian journalists were found in a leaked list of potential targets for surveillance. Forensic tests done on the list has confirmed that an unidentified agency has successfully snooped some of them using the Pegasus software.
  • Indian ministers, opposition leaders, government officials, and businessmen also figure in the leaked list of people.
  • The leaked database has around 50,000 phone numbers from around the globe. Names of the others who have been suspected to have been targeted by using this software will be revealed later.
  • This leaked database was accessed by Forbidden stories and Amnesty International and was shared with The Wire, Le Monde, The Guardian, The Washington Post and others as part of an investigation named the Pegasus Project.
  • India was among the 10 countries in the list with the most numbers and Mexico topped the list with 15,000 numbers. A large share of the numbers was also from West Asian countries such as Bahrain, UAE, and Saudi Arabia, with Pakistan, Hungary and France being the other prominent countries on the list.

About Pegasus

The NSO group, an Israeli company, sells the spyware named Pegasus to governments across the world. This spyware can be used to snoop on phones that run on iOS and android systems. Seventeen international media groups that include The Washington Post and The Guardian have led the investigation into how Pegasus was used to allegedly extract information and messages from the phones of politicians, journalists, activists etc.

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