Former Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) chief Alok Verma, who was unceremoniously ousted in 2018 after a clash with the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government, is among those listed as potential targets of surveillance using the Pegasus spyware sold by Israeli company NSO Group, The Wire reported on Thursday.
According to the report, Verma's number was added to the list just hours after he was ousted at midnight on October 23, 2018. Along with the ex-CBI chief, personal mobile numbers of his wife, daughter and son-in-law are also a part of the leaked list that was analysed by media partners of the Pegasus Project consortium, reported The Wire.
Besides, the phone numbers of two other senior CBI officials, Rakesh Asthana and A.K. Sharma, also find a place on the list. Interestingly, their numbers were added only an hour after Verma.
It has to be noted that a mere presence of a number on the list does not mean that the smartphone was successfully snooped upon using the military-grade Pegasus spyware. It could only be concluded after conducting digital forensics on the device’s data.
Earlier in the day, The Wire reported that top ring of advisers around the Dalai Lama and several leaders of the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (NSCN) are also among those listed as potential targets.
Also, the mobile phone numbers of Anil Ambani and Dassault Aviation’s representative in India Venkata Rao Posina are among those listed as potential targets, The Wire reported on Thursday.
For the unversed, the reports have been published by The Wire in collaboration with 16 other international publications including the Washington Post, The Guardian and Le Monde, as media partners to an investigation conducted by Paris-based media non-profit organisation Forbidden Stories and rights group Amnesty International.
The investigation focuses on a leaked list of more than 50,000 phone numbers from across the world that are believed to have been the target of surveillance through Pegasus software of Israeli surveillance company NSO Group.
(With PTI inputs)