The Indians in the snooping database include over 40 journalists, three major opposition figures, one constitutional authority, two serving ministers in the Narendra Modi government, current and former heads and officials of security organisations and scores of businesspersons, The Wire reported.
Among the numbers in the Pegasus Project database is one that was registered in the name of a sitting Supreme Court judge. However, The Wire has not been able to confirm whether the number, which the judge gave up before it was added to the list, was still being used by him for WhatsApp and other encrypted messaging apps when the number was selected. “Until such time as we are able to establish the number’s actual user during the period in question, we are withholding the name of the judge,” it said.
The Wire and its partners said that they will also not be revealing the identity of any names that appear to be the subject of counter-terrorism.
A leaked database of thousands of telephone numbers believed to have been listed by multiple government clients of an Israeli surveillance technology firm includes over 300 verified Indian mobile telephone numbers, including those used by ministers, opposition leaders, journalists, the legal community, businessmen, government officials, scientists, rights activists and others, according to an investigation by The Wire and 16 media partners.
Forensic tests conducted as part of this project on a small cross-section of phones associated with these numbers revealed clear signs of targeting by Pegasus spyware in 37 phones, of which 10 are Indian. Without subjecting a phone to this technical analysis, it is not possible to conclusively state whether it witnessed an attack attempt or was successfully compromised.