In fact, the Pegasus list reportedly has also names of two ministers in the Union government including information technology minister Ashwini Vaishnaw, who had earlier today said in Lok Sabha that there was no substance in Pegasus project report.
The Wire, which was a part of Pegasus project that investigated possible snooping using the Israeli spyware in many countries, confirmed that at least two mobile phone accounts used by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi were among 300 verified Indian numbers listed as potential targets.
Spyware Pegasus, which is sold by the NSO Group of Israel, may have been used to conduct surveillance on about 300 Indians, including two serving Cabinet ministers at the Centre, three opposition leaders, a Constitutional authority, government officials, scientists and about 40 journalists,
“Such was the apparent interest in Gandhi that the numbers of five of his social friends and acquaintances were also placed on the list of potential targets. None of the five plays any role in politics or public affairs,” The Wire report said.
However, Rahul’s phones are not among those examined as he no longer has the handsets he used at the time that his numbers appear to have been selected for targeting – from mid-2018 to mid-2019, the report says.
In the absence of forensics, it is not possible to conclusively establish whether Pegasus was deployed against Rahul Gandhi.
The Wire also said that in the midst of the heated West Bengal assembly election, the phone of poll strategist Prashant Kishor was broken into using NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware, according to digital forensics conducted by Amnesty International’s Security Lab.
According to The Wire, the investigations have also revealed that the mobile number of Abhishek Banerjee, the powerful Trinamool Congress MLA and nephew of West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, was also selected as a potential target for surveillance by a government client of NSO Group.
Besides the politicians, the potential targets on the snoop list also includes the name of Supreme Court staffer who had made allegations against former Chief Justice of India Gogoi.
It also includes the name of Ashok Lavasa, the former Election Commissioner, who had flagged poll code violations by Prime Minister Modi.
BJP is Bharatiya Jasoos Party, says Congress
With more names coming out in the open, the Congress slammed the Modi government and said “no other government has done such a shameful thing.”
Congress leader Randeep Surjewala took a dig at the BJP and said the BJP has become the “Bhartiya Jasoos Party”.
BJP rejects Congress allegations
The BJP slammed the Congress for touching a new low in politics and outrightly denied the charges levelled by the opposition parties.
Rejecting Congress allegations on alleged Pegasus phone tapping reports, former Union minister and senior BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad says the allegations made by the opposition party was bereft of political propriety and a new low in political discourse. Prasad said it is shameful that the Congress party, which has a long history of phone tapping, is making baseless allegations.
Not a shred of evidence has come that links the incident with the Indian government or the BJP then how one can make allegations against the government, Prasad said.