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Pegasus spyware used to ‘snoop’ on Indian journalists, activists

17 media groups across the world collaborated to expose secret surveillance via victims’ phones.

Telephone numbers of some 40 Indian journalists figure in a “leaked list of potential targets for surveillance” and forensic tests were said to have “confirmed that some of them were successfully snooped upon by an unidentified agency using Pegasus software”, The Wire, an independent news website, reported on Sunday night.

Indian ministers, government officials, and opposition leaders also figure in the list of people whose phones may have been compromised by the spyware, The Wire, which conducted the investigation along with international partners, claimed.

The leaked telephone numbers included correspondents and writers from the Hindustan Times, The Hindu, India Today, Indian Express and Network18. Vijaita Singh, who works for The Hindu’s national bureau, also figures in the list, which includes journalists like Shishir Gupta, Siddharth Vardarajan, M.K. Venu, Sushant Singh, Rohini Singh, Muzamil Jaleel, Ritika Chopra and Swati Chaturvedi.

The spyware Pegasus is apparently sold to governments around the world by NSO group, an Israeli company. It can be used to snoop on phones that run on Android and iOS systems.

Seventeen international media groups, including The Guardian and The Washington Post, led the investigation into how Pegasus was used to allegedly extract messages and information from the phones of journalists, politicians and activists.

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