Pegasus Project: SC Registrars, Lawyers of High-Profile Clients in Leaked List

·3 min read

As the row over the Pegasus Project reports continues in India, a new report by The Wire on Wednesday, 4 August, said that two officers from the Supreme Court’s registry, two lawyers with high-profile clients, and a junior lawyer employed by a former attorney general were potential targets for surveillance using Israeli spyware Pegasus.

An old number belonging to a now-retired Supreme Court Judge has also featured in the list, the report said.

Reports published by news organisations across the world on 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.

Analyses carried out on some of the phones belonging to those who have featured in the leaked database so far have shown evidence of the spyware.

Also Read: 'Firm & United' in Demand for Pegasus Discussion in Parl: Opposition

Who Were the Potential Targets?

The latest report by The Wire claims that the phone numbers of two officers of the apex court's registry were entered into the database in the spring of 2019.

The report also says that a Rajasthan mobile number, which belonged to retired Supreme Court Justice Arun Mishra, also became part of the database the same year.

Apart from these three, numbers of two lawyers representing high-profile clients have also been found to have been added to the now-leaked database. According to The Wire, a number belonging to Vijay Agarwal, who is fugitive diamantaire Nirav Modi’s lawyer, became a potential target for surveillance in early 2018. A number belonging to his wife was also found in the database.

Delhi-based lawyer, Aljo P Joseph was also reportedly added to the list in 2019. Joseph represents Christian Michel, the British ‘middleman’ connected to the Agusta Westland helicopter deal case.

The Wire also reported that a number belonging to M Thangathurai, a junior lawyer who was employed by former attorney general Mukul Rohatgi was also found in the leaked database.

Also Read: Editors Guild Moves SC Seeking SIT Probe Into Pegasus Spyware Row

The Pegasus Snoopgate

The report comes as part of a series that has revealed the possibility of snooping operations against several 'potential' targets, including high-profile journalists, political leaders, and ministers.

Multiple reports, published since 18 July, have revealed the names of Rahul Gandhi, Prashant Kishor, Ashok Lavasa, and Union ministers Prahlad Patel and Ashwini Vaishnaw, among those on the leaked list.

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

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'.

Pegasus, a product of Israeli cyberweapons company NSO Group, was earlier in the news in late 2019 when it was found that spies used the spyware to hack into phones of roughly 1,400 users around the world, including 121 Indians.

The Indian government, on its part, has denied any role in the snooping operations, slamming the reports. The issue has caused a huge political row in the country, with Parliament witnessing daily disruptions as the Opposition demands a probe and a discussion on the issue.

(With inputs from The Wire)

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