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Pegasus Row | 'No transaction' with Israel's NSO Group, Defence Ministry tells Parliament

CPI(M) Rajya Sabha MP V Sivadasan had asked the Defence Ministry to reveal whether it has carried out any business dealings with NSO Group Technologies and "if yes, the details thereof?"

August 09, 2021 / 04:52 PM IST
Representative image

Representative image

The Defence Ministry, in a written response to a question raised in the Parliament, said on August 9 that it has "no transaction" history with Israeli firm NSO Group, which has developed the Pegasus spyware.

The statement from the government was issued while responding to a question raised by CPI(M)'s Rajya Sabha MP from Kerala, V Sivadasan.

Sivadasan had asked the Defence Ministry to reveal whether it has carried out any business dealings with NSO Group Technologies and "if yes, the details thereof?"

In his written response, Minister of State for Defence Ajay Bhatt categorically stated that the "Ministry of Defence has not had any transaction with NSO Group Technologies".

Also Read | Pegasus Row: Allegations serious if media reports are correct, says SC; matter to be heard next on August 10

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The issue involving the alleged use of Pegasus in India emerged on July 18, a day before the start of Monsoon Session of the Parliament.

A consortium of 17 media organisations across the world, including India's online news portal The Wire, accessed a list of people who were allegedly spied using the Pegasus spyware, or were potential targets.

A report published by The Wire claimed that at least 300 Indian phone numbers, including those of over 40 senior journalists, opposition leaders, government officials, and rights activists were found in the leaked database.

The role of the Centre is being questioned as NSO Group sells it spyware only to government agencies, the opposition parties pointed out.

"NSO only sells Pegasus to governments and Modi government denies deploying it. Let us find out who is snooping on us," senior Congress MP Shashi Tharoor had said, as he demanded a Supreme Court judge-monitored probe into the issue.

Union Minister for Electronics and Information Technology, Ashwini Vaishnaw, whose name also emerged in the leaked database, told the Parliament on July 19 that the media reports alleging surveillance are "sensationalist" and lack substance.

"In the past, similar claims were made regarding the use of Pegasus on WhatsApp. Those reports had no factual basis and were categorically denied by all parties, including in the Supreme Court," Vaishnaw said, adding that "the press reports of 18th July 2021 also appear to be an attempt to malign the Indian democracy and its well established institutions".
Moneycontrol News
first published: Aug 9, 2021 04:16 pm

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