Indian politician Priyanka Gandhi Vadra was snooped upon by the Israeli spyware ‘Pegasus’, a spokesman for India’s Congress party said Sunday.
Priyanka is the daughter of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and sister of Rahul Gandhi. She is the granddaughter of Feroze and Indira Gandhi
The Indian National Congress issued a statement accusing the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party of its involvement in hacking of cell phones through the spyware that belongs to Israeli surveillance firm NSO Group.
In May 2019, WhatsApp said it had “stopped a highly sophisticated cyber attack” exploiting its video calling feature. It had also sent messages to some of the affected users.
“Two leaders, Praful Patel and Mamata Banerjee have stated their telephones were hacked,” Congress spokesman Randeep Singh Surjewala told the Indian media Sunday.
“As far as I know, when WhatsApp supposedly sent messages to different people whose phones were hacked, Priyanka Gandhi also received a similar message.”
Dubbing the BJP as the “Bharatiya Jasoos Party”, Surjewala presented some documents and stated that several journalists, activists and political leaders were snooped upon via Pegasus. He also claimed that the BJP government was aware of this and there were documents that proved that the spyware could be sold only to governments and not to any private entity.
“BJP Government, including the Ministry of Information was fully aware of the cell phone hack in April May 2019. Facebook has now gone on record to state that it sent a second written warning vis-a-vis the illegal Pegasus software in first week of September, 2019. Yet the Government decided to remain mum,” the Congress party said in its statement.
“Not only this, IT Minister, Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad met WhatsApp CEO, Mr Chris Daniels on 20 August, 2019. He again met Facebook Vice-President, Mr. Nick Clegg on 12 September, 2019. Yet Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad, IT Minister as also Modi Government, chose to keep mum.”
“Layers of BJP Govt’s conspiracy & collusion in the illegal & unconstitutional hacking of cell phones through surveillance software ‘Pegasus’ are unraveling everyday. BJP Govt is the deployer & executor of this illegal & unconstitutional snooping & spying racket,” Surjewala tweeted, along with the statement issued by the Congress party.
Earlier this week, Indian media reported that several activists and lawyers were among those who were targets of the state-of-the-art-surveillance by operators using an Israeli spyware. Last week, WhatsApp had also filed a lawsuit against NSO Group in an American federal court for using its platform for conducting surveillance.
However, the NSO Group has denied any wrongdoing. A statement issued by the Tel Aviv-based company said that it provides “authorised governments with technology that helps them combat terror and crime”.
It has claimed that the spyware, Pegasus, has been sold only to “vetted and legitimate” government agencies, and the same goes for India.