Centre Lied To Court, Parliament, Says Congress On Pegasus: 10 Points

Spyware Pegasus has been in the centre of a big controversy (Representational)

New Delhi:
A new investigative piece by The New York Times has reignited the controversy over the spyware Pegasus, made by Israeli security firm NSO. The Congress has renewed their attack on the government over the spyware’s alleged illegal use in India.

Here’s your 10-point cheatsheet to this big story:

  1. Pegasus has been in the centre of a big controversy over its alleged used against the public, military and civil officers, politicians, activists, judges and journalists for illegal surveillance. The report by The New York Times said Pegasus and a missile system were the “centrepieces” of a $2 billion deal in 2017 when Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Israel – the first by any Indian Prime Minister.

  2. “The Modi government bought Pegasus to spy on our primary democratic institutions, politicians, the public, government functionaries, opposition leaders, armed forces, judiciary, all were targeted with phone tapping. This is treason,” Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala told reporters today.

  3. Mr Surjewala’s Congress colleague Rahul Gandhi tweeted, “Modi government bought Pegasus to spy on our primary democratic institutions, politicians and public. Government functionaries, opposition leaders, armed forces, judiciary all were targeted by phone tapping. This is treason. Modi government has committed treason.”

  4. The Congress’s latest attack focuses on what the government told the Supreme Court and parliament about Pegasus. The Defence Ministry has said in parliament that it has not made any transaction with the Israeli firm NSO.

  5. Under pressure after the NSO group – which said it does business only with governments and government agencies – the government had also told parliament that no illegal interception has been done.

  6. A technical committee appointed by the Supreme Court earlier this month sought information from people who suspect their phones were targeted. Overruling virtually every argument made by the centre, the Supreme Court said privacy is not the singular concern of journalists or social activists but of every citizen.

  7. “The Modi government lied to the Supreme Court when it was directly questioned about the purchase and deployment of Pegasus. In a sworn affidavit, the government said ‘unequivocally we deny any and all of the allegations made against the government’,” Mr Surjewala said today.

  8. Home Minister Amit Shah tried to divert attention from the Pegasus matter by calling the concerns on the spyware a “report by disruptors for obstructors”, Mr Surjewala said, adding independent investigative reports have proven what Congress has been saying for long, that the Modi government used illegal spyware bought from Israel with taxpayers’ money to spy on citizens. “This is anti-national,” Mr Surjewala said.

  9. The Congress has alleged the Pegasus spyware can hack into mobile phones, activate microphones and cameras and take photos. “Data from SMS to family photos to WhatsApp chats is stolen in illegal ways and sent to Modi’s agencies. All these can be used against you,” Mr Surjewala said.

  10. He alleged the spyware was used against Rahul Gandhi and five of his staff, HD Deve Gowda, Siddaramaiah, HD Kumaraswamy, Vasundhara Raje, Praveen Togadia, Smiriti Irani’s officer on special duty, Supreme Court judges, Alok Verma, KK Sharma, Jitendra Kumar Ojha, lawyers, activists and journalists.


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