Kashmiri Journalists, Leaders Were Potential Pegasus Targets: Report
At least 25 people from J&K were reportedly selected as potential targets of surveillance between 2017 and 2019.
Delhi-based Kashmiri journalists, civil society activists, and at least 25 people from Jammu and Kashmir were selected as potential targets of surveillance between 2017 and 2019 by an unidentified government agency that was also believed to be a client of the Israel's NSO Group, reported news website The Wire on Friday, 23 July.
According to The Wire, separatist leader Bilal Lone and the late SAR Geelani, were amongst the people whose phones were forensically analysed by it.
Meanwhile, J&K Apni Party President Altaf Bukhari’s brother Tariq Bukhari's name also appeared in the list, besides at least four members of separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s family, including his son-in-law, journalist Iftikhar Gilani, and his son, scientist Syed Naseem Geelani.
“For the other potential targets in Kashmir, it was not possible, for one reason or another, to conduct forensic analysis. As The Wire and its media partners have noted, the appearance of a number in the leaked database does not necessarily mean that the phone in question had been infected; but it does mean that the phone number was likely selected for potential surveillance,” the report notes.
More Than 25 From Valley Reportedly Selected as Potential Targets
“Others on the leaked database include at least two members of People’s Democratic party (PDP) chief and former chief minister of J&K Mehbooba Mufti’s family... their selection as potential targets of surveillance happened when Mufti was still chief minister of the erstwhile State and in a coalition with the BJP... when asked if she thought there was a link, Mufti declined to comment,” the report added.
The current head of the Hurriyat Conference Mirwaiz Umar Farooq was a potential target of surveillance between 2017 and 2019, apart from his driver, human rights activist Waqar Bhatti and at least five Kashmiri journalists, including Muzamil Jaleel of The Indian Express, Aurangzeb Naqshbandi with Hindustan Times at the time, Iftikhar Geelani (formerly with DNA) and Sumir Kaul of PTI, it said.
Shabir Hussain, a Delhi-based political commentator from Kashmir, was also in the list, it pointed out.
According to the report, a Delhi-based businessman who shares strong political contacts with all mainstream J&K parties was also of interest for potential surveillance.
Another Srinagar-based businessman was noted as a potential targeted in the campaign.
Shia cleric associated with Mirwaiz-led Hurriyat and prominent separatist leader Zaffar Akbar Bhat were also a potential target of Pegasus.
The report further revealed that two social activists and a senior faculty member at an agriculture science university were also chosen for potential surveillance.
(With inputs from The Wire)
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