‘Only sensationalism’: IT Minister hits out at ‘The Wire’ for its report on Pegasus, says outrage a day before monsoon session ‘no coincidence’
New Delhi, NFAPost: The media reports of unauthorised surveillance using the Pegasus software are devoid of any factual basis, IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said in the Lok Sabha.
He said reports claiming illegal surveillance using Pegasus spyware were aimed at maligning Indian democracy. He also said there was no substance in the allegations. In the past, similar claims were made regarding the use of Pegasus on WhatsApp. Those reports had no factual basis and were categorically denied by all parties, including in the Supreme Court.
The minister made this statement in response to media reports that spyware Pegasus was being used to conduct surveillance on several Indians, including political leaders, government officials and journalists. The statement assumes significance in the backdrop of opposition parties creating a ruckus over the issue in both the Houses of Parliament on the first day of the Monsoon session.
“This cannot be a coincidence. In the past similar claims were made regarding the use of Pegasus on WhatsApp. Those reports have no factual basis and were categorically denied by all parties…. The press report of July 18, 2021 also appeared to be an attempt to malign the Indian democracy and a well-established institution,” the minister said.
More than 300 verified mobile phone numbers, including of two serving ministers, over 40 journalists, three opposition leaders and one sitting judge besides scores of business persons and activists in India could have been targeted for hacking through an Israeli spyware sold only to government agencies, an international media consortium reported on Sunday.