India is spying on journalists using Israeli software: report

India is spying on journalists using Israeli software: report

Israeli spyware designed to track terrorists and criminals has been used to hack the smartphones of human rights activists, journalists and businessmen in many countries around the world.

The Israeli company, NSO Group Technologies, had given licenses to the governments of many countries around the world to use spy software called Pegasus. According to details, Pegasus hacked the phones of journalists, human rights activists and businessmen after an investigation of 17 media partners worldwide.

Forbidden Stories, a Paris-based non-profit journalism organization, and Amnesty International, a human rights organization, accessed the list and shared it with media organizations that researched the information. The investigation revealed that citizens in different countries of the world monitored 50,000 smartphones, including 37 used by journalists, human rights activists and big business figures.

Two of the phones were also used by two women who were close associates of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was murdered in Turkey in 2018. The software is developed by the Israeli company NSO and has clients from around the world. The company has a position in the private spyware industry that spies independently of regulations.

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The victims of the hacking include ministers from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and some influential people from Pakistan.

The Indian investigative journalism website The Wire reports that 300 mobile phone numbers used in India are on the leaked list, which includes ministers, opposition politicians, journalists, scientists and humanitarian activists.

These numbers include the numbers of more than 40 Indian journalists affiliated with major publishing houses such as the Hindustan Times, The Hindu and The Indian Express. Also on the list are the telephone numbers of the founding editors of the Indian news website The Wire.

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The Washington Post, one of the media partners, said in an article about the spying software that the phone numbers on the list did not include names, but that reporters had identified 1,000 people in 50 countries. They include members of the Arab royal family, at least 65 businessmen, 85 human rights activists, 189 journalists and more than 600 politicians and government officials including several Presidents and Prime Ministers.

The hacking scandal of an Israeli company spying on the mobile phones of nearly a thousand people around the world has caused a stir around the world and people are demanding further investigation into the matter.

On the other hand, the NSO group, after the report came to light, rejected all the allegations and termed the scandal as a conspiracy against it. The agency said it provides services to governments around the world to prevent corruption, including terrorism and extremism, and has no personal interest in providing services to governments.

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On the other hand, Pakistan’s Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry has also expressed concern in his tweet on the issue. In a tweet, Fawad Chaudhry said, “Extremely concerned on news emerging from @guardiannews that Indian Govt used Israeli software to spy… more details are emerging.”

Meanwhile, Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari has also criticized the government of India and Narendra Modi for spying on his own cabinet members. She added that “apparently the Israeli firm NSO is seeking the approval of the Israeli government to sell this spyware, so this connection is clear.”

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