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Pegasus used on journalists from website that broke Rafale probe story: Chidambaram

Taking potshots at the BJP-led government, Chidambaram wondered whether the Centre would "give up its ostrich-like attitude and agree to the Opposition’s demand for a full discussion in Parliament on the misuse of Pegasus spyware in India."

Congress leader P Chidambaram during a press conference in New Delhi. (Express photo by Anil Sharma)

Drawing attention to the alleged “misuse” of Pegasus spyware, Congress leader P Chidambaram Friday said the Israeli spyware had infiltrated phones belonging to two journalists of Mediapart, a French investigative journal which had first reported that the Rafale aircraft deal was being probed in France.

In a tweet, he said the snooping was confirmed by France’s national cybersecurity agency. Taking potshots at the BJP-led government, Chidambaram wondered whether the Centre would “give up its ostrich-like attitude and agree to the Opposition’s demand for a full discussion in Parliament on the misuse of Pegasus spyware in India.”

“How long can the government duck and hide and scoot when all that the Opposition wants is a full debate?” he tweeted.

Amid reports that French President Emmanuel Macron spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on the Pegasus snooping allegations, Chidambaram had on Monday attacked the Centre, saying the only government that is “unconcerned” over the issue is that of India.

Macron has spoken to Bennett over reports that Morocco’s security forces may have used the Pegasus spyware to snoop on his cellphones. Macron telephoned Bennett on July 22, and asked him to ensure that “the issue was being taken seriously”, Israel’s Channel 12 has reported.

Reacting to the reports, Chidambaram tweeted, “President Macron of France called PM Bennett of Israel and demanded to know full information about alleged use of Pegasus spyware to hack phones in France, including the President’s.

” PM Bennett promised to come back with the “conclusions” of their own investigations, the former home minister said.

“The only government that is unconcerned is the Government of India!” Chidambaram said.

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“Is it because the government was fully aware of the snooping and does not need any more information from Israel or the NSO Group?” he asked.

Earlier on Sunday, the Congress leader had said that the government should either call for a joint parliamentary committee probe into the Pegasus snooping allegations or request the Supreme Court to appoint a sitting judge to investigate the matter. He also demanded that Prime Minister Narendra Modi make a statement in Parliament clarifying whether there had been surveillance or not.

In India, the names of 125 potential targets out of 300-odd verified ones from over 2,000 Indian numbers found on the leaked list have been made public.

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However, the government has denied “unauthorised interception” and described the Pegasus Project as a “fishing expedition, based on conjectures and exaggerations to malign the Indian democracy and its institutions”.

First published on: 30-07-2021 at 17:42 IST
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