Amnesty International said that it stands by the findings of the Pegasus Project and that the "data is irrefutably linked to potential targets of NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware."
The Amnesty International Organisation Thursday issued a statement saying that it “categorically stands” by the findings of the Pegasus Project, amid calls for ban on the non-governmental organisation and allegations of “international conspiracy” to malign India.
The organisation said that the “data is irrefutably linked to potential targets of NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware.” “The false rumours being pushed on social media are intended to distract from the widespread unlawful targeting of journalists, activists and others that the Pegasus Project has revealed,” the statement read.
Earlier, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma had demanded a ban on human rights body’s activities in India for its role in the Pegasus controversy.
“Amnesty International is a partner in this investigation. Now we all know the role of Amnesty. They are encouraging left wing-terrorism in India…working overnight to defame the country,” he said, adding that the entire row was a “well-designed international conspiracy to defame Prime Minister Narendra Modi.” Sarma added that there was no evidence in the claims and none of the handsets of the people mentioned had undergone forensic examination.
Amnesty International, however, has stated that it carried out a technical and forensic analysis of many infected phones, and that they have observed instances of Pegasus infecting devices with a ‘zero-click’ operation, meaning that the victim does not need to interact with the malicious link.
It must be noted that in 2020, the Amnesty International halted its India operations and let go off its staff members, alleging “witch-hunt” by the Centre.
Meanwhile, the Monsoon session of Parliament was adjourned for the day for both the houses as the Opposition caused an uproar against the alleged snooping as soon as Electronics and Information Technology Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw rose to speak on the ‘Pegasus Project’ media reports.
Earlier, Vaishnaw had called the story “sensational”, and seeming to be an attempt “to malign Indian democracy and its well established institutions”. “Many over the top allegations have been made around this story. The press reports have appeared a day before the Monsoon session of parliament. This cannot be a coincidence,” he said in Parliament on Monday.
However, Opposition leaders have demanded a probe into the allegations, accusing the government of turning Indian into a “surveillance state”.
Trinamool Congress leader and West Bengal Chief Minister Banerjee Wednesday appealed to the Supreme Court to take suo motu cognizance of alleged surveillance using the Pegasus spyware. “Pegasus is dangerous. They are harassing people… Spygiri is going on. Phones of ministers, judges are being tapped. They have finished the democratic structure. Pegasus captured the election process, the judiciary, ministers and media houses. Instead of a democratic state, they want to convert it into a surveillance state,” she said.
A plea has also been filed in the Supreme Court by advocate M L Sharma seeking a court-monitored probe by a Special Investigation Team (SIT) into the matter.
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