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'Death of Freedom': Sanjay Raut Likens Pegasus Snoopgate with Hiroshima Bombing

Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut raised questions about the recent Pegasus spyware reports in his Saamana column.

Published
India
2 min read
<div class="paragraphs"><p>Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut on Sunday, 25 July, raised questions about the <a href="https://www.thequint.com/tech-and-auto/tech-news/use-of-spyware-against-civil-society-journos-concerning-us-on-pegasus-row#read-more">recently-surfaced Pegasus spyware reports</a>.</p></div>
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Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut on Sunday, 25 July, raised questions about the recently-surfaced Pegasus spyware reports, comparing the alleged snooping operation with the Hiroshima bombing of 1945, wherein over one lakh Japanese civilians were killed.

Asserting that the spying operation is 'no different from the atomic bomb attack on Hiroshima,' Raut said, adding, “People died in Hiroshima, while in the Pegasus case, it led to the death of freedom,” news agency PTI reported.

Reports published by news organisations across the world 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 several journalists, politicians, government officials and rights activists.
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'Atmosphere of Freedom Has Ended': Raut

Inquiring about the identity of the entity behind the purported spying operation, Raut, in his weekly column 'Rokhthok' in the Shiv Sena's newsletter Saamana, said that 'modern technology has taken us back to slavery'.

Raut, who is the executive editor of Saamana, further stated that politicians, industrialists, activists, judiciary and journalists who are critics of the Modi-led government are facing the apprehension of being surveilled.

“The atmosphere of freedom in the national capital ended a few years ago,” the Shiv Sena MP said, PTI reported.

Raut, quoting a media report, observed that Pegasus-maker NSO exacts a Rs 60 crore annual license fee for its military-grade surveillance software, using which 50 phones can be tapped.

Relating this with recent reports that suggest that over 300 Indian phone numbers were hacked using Pegasus, Raut questioned whether the Indian government undertook the heavy expenditure.

“Was so much money spent? Who paid for it? The NSO says it sells its software only to governments. If it is so, which government in India purchased the software? Rs 300 crore were spent for spying on 300 people in India. Does our country have the capacity to spend so much money on spying?" Raut asked in his column, PTI reported.

The Pegasus Snoopgate

A series of reports that have surfaced since 18 July have revealed the possibility of snooping operations against several 'potential' targets, including high-profile journalists, political leaders and ministers.

The names of Rahul Gandhi, Prashant Kishor, Ashok Lavasa, and Union ministers Prahlad Patel and Ashwini Vaishnaw, are among those on the leaked list, The Wire reported.

The alleged snooping attempts were reportedly carried out using spyware Pegasus, a product of Israeli cyberweapons company NSO Group.

However, the the presence of the numbers in the 'Pegasus Project' does not confirm that the device was actually 'infected with Pegasus or subject to an attempted hack,' The Wire said.

The Indian government, on its part, has denied any role in the snooping operations, slamming the reports.

IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw on Monday, 19 July, said in the Lok Sabha that the Pegasus Project is an attempt to malign India’s 'democracy and its well-established institutions'.

(With inputs from PTI and The Wire)

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