Updated on: Monday, August 09, 2021, 04:57 PM IST

Pegasus spyware row: No transaction with Israeli firm NSO Group, says Defence Ministry

In this file photo taken on August 28, 2016, a woman uses her iPhone in front of the building housing the Israeli NSO group

In this file photo taken on August 28, 2016, a woman uses her iPhone in front of the building housing the Israeli NSO group "Pegasus", in Herzliya, near Tel Aviv. | (Photo by AFP)


The Defence Ministry on Monday said it has not made any transaction with the Pegasus spyware maker NSO Group, reported NDTV.

The written reponse read: The Defence Ministry "has not had any transaction with NSO Group Technologies".

The statement was part of the Defence Ministry's answer in Rajya Sabha in response to a question by CPI(M) MP Dr V Sivadasan. He had questioned whether the government has carried out any transaction with the Israeli firm and if so, he had demanded to know the details of it.

For the unversed, the Pegasus spyware row has been an issue that has led to repeated adjournments of both the Houses of Parliament since the Monsoon Session commenced. Opposition parties have united in seeking a discussion on the snooping issue, and has exerted pressure on the government. However, the government has termed it as a ‘non-issue’.

What is the Pegasus spyware row?

The Pegasus Project is a global collaborative investigative project. It has revealed that the military-grade Pegasus spyware was used to target over 300 mobile phone numbers in India, including that of two union ministers, opposition leaders, scores of business persons and activists in India, for hacking through the Israeli spyware.

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 the Pegasus spyware.

The Pegasus Project also showed that at least 10 governments allegedly were NSO customers. Reportedly these countries are Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Morocco, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Hungary, India, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Meanwhile, the Indian government has called the report “sensational”, and an attempt “to malign Indian democracy and its well-established institutions”.

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Published on: Monday, August 09, 2021, 04:57 PM IST