Pegasus used for spying on me: Rahul Gandhi at Cambridge
During his recent lecture at Cambridge University, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi claimed that the Indian government used Pegasus, spyware developed by Israel's cyber-intelligence firm NSO Group, to spy on him and other politicians. He claimed that Indian intelligence officers warned him that his calls were being recorded and that he must exercise caution while speaking on the phone.
Why does this story matter?
- The BJP-led Central government was accused of acquiring Pegasus and installing it on the devices of politicians and journalists.
- When pressed by the Opposition for a debate on Pegasus, the government refused, citing national security concerns.
- Following a probe, the Supreme Court observed that the government did not cooperate with the probe committee by refusing to state whether it had acquired Pegasus.
BJP attacking basic structure of democracy: Rahul Gandhi
The Gandhi scion alleged that the BJP had unleashed "an attack on the basic structure of Indian democracy." He said the institutional framework required for democracy is under attack, including Parliament, free press, judiciary, and the idea of mobilization. He highlighted the Constitutional tenet of federalism, saying that the government was trampling the negotiation between the Centre and states, along with attacking minorities.
Congress leader and ex-Union minister, Sam Pitroda shared Gandhi's lecture
Got a number of cases: Gandhi
Citing cases against the Opposition by the government, Gandhi said, "I have got a number of criminal liable cases for things that should under no circumstances be criminal liable cases. That's what we are trying to defend." Gandhi was addressing MBA students at the Cambridge Judge Business School on the topic of 'Learning to Listen in the 21st Century.'
SC-appointed panel found no conclusive evidence of Pegasus
In August last year, the committee probing the snooping allegations against the government reported that Pegasus was not found in the 29 mobile phones that were examined. Although some malware was found in five phones, the committee concluded that it couldn't be attributed to Pegasus.
Crying on international platform: Anurag Thakur on Gandhi
Reacting to Gandhi's allegations, Union Minister Anurag Singh Thakur said that Gandhi was "once again crying on an international platform." He said that the Pegasus issue occupied a deep corner of Gandhi's mind, while claiming that India has gained global recognition under PM Narendra Modi's leadership. Taunting Gandhi, Thakur said if not anyone else, he should have at least listened to Italy's prime minister.
Pegasus used to target over 300 individuals: Report
An investigative report by global media organizations claimed the government used Pegasus to hack the phones of more than 300 Indian activists, journalists, and Opposition leaders, among others. Potential targets included Gandhi, and election strategist Prashant Kishor, among many others. The NSO Group had stated that it only supplied the product to vetted government clients and their agencies, and it doesn't deal with individuals.