In an attempt to dismiss the targeted-surveillance allegations, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Thursday, 22 July, claimed that Amnesty International, a collaborative part of the ‘Pegasus Project’, has itself denied the list of names who were possible targets for surveillance.
However, rejecting the claim, the human rights NGO said in a statement, “Amnesty International categorically stands by the findings of the Pegasus Project, and that the data is irrefutably linked to potential targets of NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware.”
Amnesty added, “The rumours being pushed on social media are intended to distract from the widespread unlawful targeting of journalists, activists, and others that the Pegasus Project has revealed."
What NSO Group Said
Though the NSO Group has continued denying the allegations made by Pegasus Project, it has also indicated that serious allegations will be investigated.
NSO said, "Any claim that a name on the list is necessarily related to a Pegasus target or Pegasus potential target is erroneous and false.”
Further, NSO claimed that it does not operate the systems that it sells to "vetted government" customers and does not have access to the data of its customers’ targets.
However, NSO can obtain them for investigation purposes, which is how it was able to confirm that some people were not potential targets.
A report published by an Indian online news portal on Sunday, 18 July, revealed that Israel-made spyware Pegasus was believed to have been used to snoop on at least 300 Indian phone numbers, including those of over 40 senior journalists, opposition leaders, government officials and rights activists.
The leaked list of names was provided to The Wire and 15 other international news organisations by France-based media non-profit Forbidden Stories and Amnesty International as part of a collaborative investigation called the 'Pegasus Project'.