Media reports day before parliament session attempt to malign Indian democracy: IT minister Ashwini Vaishnaw on Pegasus row


New Delhi: A day after a consortium of media organisations including The Wire, The Washington Post and The Guardian among others reported that the government of India spied on certain journalists, politicians and other individuals through an Israel spyware Pegasus, the Union Minister of Information & Technology Ashwini Vaishnaw rejected the claims in the Lok Sabha.

Vaishnaw said that the “sensational story” that appeared a day before the start of the monsoon session of Parliament cannot be a coincidence.

He asserted that the media reports were an attempt to malign Indian democracy and its well-established institutions.

“A highly sensational story was published by a web portal last night. Many over-the-top allegations have been made around this story. The press reports appeared a day before the monsoon session of Parliament. This can’t be a coincidence,” the IT minister said in Parliament.

“In the past, similar claims were made regarding the use of Pegasus on WhatsApp. Those reports had no factual basis and were denied by all parties. Press reports of July 18, 2021, also appear to be an attempt to malign Indian democracy and its well-established institutions,” he added.

“I request all members of House to examine issues on facts and logic. The basis of this report is that there is a consortium that has got access to a leaked database of 50,000 phone numbers” Vaishnaw said.

He further said that “the report says that the presence of a phone number in the data does not reveal whether was a device was infected by Pegasus or subjected to an attempted hack”.

“Without subjecting the phone to this technical analysis, it’s not possible to conclusively state whether it witnessed an attempted hack or successfully compromised. The report itself clarifies that presence of a number in the list doesn’t amount to snooping,” he said.

Yesterday, calling the snooping allegations false and malicious, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology had said that there has been no unauthorised interception by government agencies.

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