300 verified Indian mobile telephone numbers on hit list, report The Wire and other global publications
NEW DELHI — A leaked database has revealed that phone numbers of Indian ministers, opposition leaders, journalists, activists, government officials and scientists were found on the list believed to be targets of spyware of Israeli surveillance technology firm, according to reports by news website The Wire and other global publications.
The list carries 300 verified Indian mobile telephone numbers, said The Wire. According to the database the numbers in the list belong to influential people including over 40 journalists, three major opposition figures, one constitutional authority, two serving ministers in the Narendra Modi government, current and former heads and officials of security organisations and scores of businesspersons.
NSO Group, an Isreali spyware company that own Pegasus, claims it sells the spyware only to “vetted governments”.
The Wire along with 16 other publications was part of Pegasus project that conducted forensic analysis and found clear signs of targeting by Pegasus spyware in 37 phones, of which 10 are Indian.
Majority of the numbers found in the list belonged to India, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Morocco, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
A team of over 80 journalists collaborated with Forbidden Stories to identify and verify the individuals to whom these numbers belonged.
In the case of India, the time period covered by the data is mid-2017 to mid-2019 in run up to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
The wire said that it will be revealing the names of the people it has been able to verify in step by step fashion in the next four days.
The presence of the phone number does not ascertain whether a phone was hacked but can be confirmed only through forensic examination of the device.
The Indian government in its response to the question from the Pegasus project has said: “India is a robust democracy that is committed to ensuring the right to privacy to all its citizens as a fundamental right” and that the “allegations regarding government surveillance on specific people has no concrete basis or truth associated with it whatsoever.”
The government, according to the report, did not specifically deny use of Pegasus.
Meanwhile, some of the names from India on the list of Indians, including journalists, lawyers and activists whose phones were allegedly potential targets of surveillance, some of which were successfully snooped upon, according to the expose.
Shishir Gupta, Hindustan Times
Prashant Jha, Hindustan Times
Rahul Singh, Hindustan Times
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi, Hindustan Times
Saikat Dutta, former Hindustan Times
Vijaita Singh, The Hindu
Muzamil Jaleel, The Indian Express
Ritika Chopra, The Indian Express
Sushant Singh, former The Indian Express
Sandeep Unnithan, India Today
Elizabeth Roche, Mint
Siddharth Varadarajan, co-founder of The Wire
Swati Chaturvedi, The Wire
Devirupa Mitra, The Wire
Rohini Singh, The Wire
M.K. Venu, The Wire
J Gopikrishnan, The Pioneer
Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, journalist and adviser, NewsClick
Manoranjana Gupta, editor-in-chief, Frontier TV
Sidhant Sibal, WION
Ruwa Shah, independent journalist covering J&K
Shabir Hussein Buchh, independent journalist
Iftikar Gilani, journalist covering J&K
Smita Sharma, IndianAhead
Prem Shankar Jha, Indian economist, journalist
Ajit Sahi, independent journalist
Santosh Bhartiya, journalist and ex MP
Deepak Gidwani, independent journalist
Bhupinder Singh Sajjan, Punjabi journalist
Jaspal Singh Heran, Punjabi Journalist
Hassan Babar Nehru, lawyer and activist in J&K
Umar Khalid, JNU scholar, currently in jail under UAPA
Thirumurugan Gandhi, activist arrested under UAPA
Rona Wilson, activist arrested under UAPA
Rupali Jadhav, arrested under UAPA
Degree Prasad Chouhan, activist
Laxman Pant, activist
Parul Malhotra, political economy advisor at British High Commission