Ex-CBI chief Alok Verma, Anil Ambani among potential Pegasus targets: Report

The report said along with Alok Verma, the personal numbers of his wife, daughter and son-in-law were also on the list.

Ex-CBI chief Alok Verma, Anil Ambani among potential Pegasus targets: Report
Former CBI chief Alok Verma and industrialist Anil Ambani (Photo credit: PTI)

New Delhi: Former CBI chief Alok Verma and businessman Anil Ambani were selected as possible targets for surveillance of Israeli spyware Pegasus, The Wire reported. According to The Wire, just hours after Alok Verma was removed from his post as head of the Central Bureau of Investigation at midnight on October 23, 2018, an unidentified Indian agency is known to be a user of Pegasus spyware made a note of three telephone numbers registered in his name. The report said along with Verma, the personal numbers of his wife, daughter and son-in-law were also on the list.

As per the report, phone numbers used by Anil Ambani and one other official of the Reliance ADA Group were added to the leaked list that was analysed by media partners of the Pegasus Project consortium.

The Wire said in its report, “Apart from Ambani, the other company official whose numbers appear on the list include corporate communications chief Tony Jesudasan, as well as Jesudasan’s wife.” According to the report, Ambani’s number was added to the list in 2018, when his company was involved in controversy relating to the Rafale aircraft deal. The report also said that they could not confirm if Ambani is still using the number.

The report however said, “The mere presence of a number on the list does not imply the smartphone connected to it was successfully snooped upon – a conclusion that can only be established by conducting digital forensics on the device’s data – but the consortium has reason to believe that it represents a person of interest for an unknown client of the NSO Group.”

The Pegasus Project was conducted by an international media consortium of 17 media organisations from across the world. The ‘Pegasus Report’ was published by The Wire as well as 16 other international publications, including The Guardian, Washington Post, Le Monde Haaretz, as media partners in an investigation conducted by Paris-based media non-profit organisation Forbidden Stories and Amnesty International, into a leaked list of more than 50,000 phone numbers from across the world that are believed to have been the target of surveillance through Israeli spyware firm NSO Group’s Pegasus software.

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