About 300 Indians including 40 journalists, politicians were snooped upon by an unidentified agency using Spyware Pegasus, The Wire, an independent news website, reported on Sunday.
According to French media, Forbidden Stories, and Amnesty International, the leaked list of potential targets for surveillance data has telephone numbers of some 40 Indian journalists, two serving Cabinet ministers at the Centre, three Opposition leaders, government officials, Constitutional authority, scientists, and others.
The list also included businessmen, activists, prominent personalities from the legal fraternity whose phones may have been compromised by the spyware, claimed The Wire, which investigated a global media project involving 16 other international outlets such as The Guardian, and The Washington Post.
The names of others suspected to have been targeted will be disclosed in the coming days, the web portal said.
The journalists at big media houses like India Today, Network18, The Hindu, Indian Express, and the Hindustan Times are suspected to be on the leaked data list. The names of journalists include executive editor Shishir Gupta, Siddharth Vardarajan, M.K. Venu, Muzamil Jaleel, Ritika Chopra, Sushant Singh, Rohini Singh, and Swati Chaturvedi.
Pegasus, which is sold by the Israeli company, NSO Group, only offers its spyware to vetted governments. While the Pegasus project, a consortium of news organisations that analysed this list, believed that the data is indicative of potential targets identified in advance of surveillance attempts.
However, the company has refused to make its list of customers public but the range of people selected for surveillance strongly indicates that the agency operating the spyware is an official Indian one. The digital forensic analysis reports have confirmed the targeting of 37 phones, of which nine are iPhones and one Android, were Indian.