Pegasus used to collapse our govt in Karnataka, alleges Congress
New Delhi/IBNS: Phone numbers linked to the Janata Dal Secular (JDS)-Congress government in Karnataka were possible targets for surveillance in 2019, when the ruling coalition collapsed and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) took power, the Wire has said in the latest revelations in connection with Israeli spyware "Pegasus" row.
The Wire report links the toppling of the JDS-Congress government in July 2019 and the BJP's takeover to alleged snooping.
The allegation has been echoed by the opposition Congress too though there is no evidence to establish whether phones were hacked.
According to reports, the phone numbers of Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara and the personal secretaries of then Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy and former chief minister Siddaramaiah were alleged targets of snooping.
"I was surprised to know that Pegasus has compromised my phone when I was Deputy Chief Minister, and that of Siddaramaiah and Chief Minister's secretary. Snooping activity by Pegasus is highly condemnable... Without the permission of the government of India, either the ministry of Home or the PM's office, they cannot do it," Congress leader Parameshwara said.
"I am sure the government is involved. I condemn this... They have misused their power to topple governments in this country," said he.
Kumaraswamy, who has himself faced allegations of phone-tapping, said "every party" in power misused information.
"Regarding the phone tapping issue for last two days, latest addition today is the Karnataka development. Opposition leaders from Karnataka, that is Siddaramaiah, Parameshwara and myself when we were running the coalition government, at that time, BJP friends they are misusing their good office to get information by tapping our phones. I am not interested because this issue is over," he said.
More than 1,000 phone numbers in India appeared on the snooping list of the Pegasus, stated a collaborative investigation report by The Wire, The Washington Post and other media partners in 10 countries.
Besides key politicians, over 40 Indian journalists and a constitutional authority were also found on the database of NSO as connected to people of interest since 2016, The Wire has reported.
The Israeli company, which sells Pegasus, has denied the snooping allegations, claiming that it only offers its spyware to "vetted governments" and said it was "considering a defamation lawsuit".
However, forensic tests have confirmed that some of them were successfully snooped upon by an unidentified agency using Pegasus spyware, The Wire reported.
The data was accessed by Paris-based nonprofit journalism organisation Forbidden Stories and Amnesty International and then shared with the Guardian, The Wire and other media outlets as part of the Pegasus project.