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Pegasus Expose: Israeli Firm NSO Threatens Defamation Lawsuit Over ‘Outrageous Allegations’

The Pegasus software has been embroiled in controversies for several years as many online freedom groups have said that the technology has been used by authoritarian regimes to snoop on journalists, human rights activists.

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An international media consortium had reported that over 300 verified Indian mobile phone numbers were on the list of potential targets for surveillance using Pegasus spyware. (Source: Pixabay)

New Delhi: NSO Group, a Tel-Aviv-based company that developed the spyware Pegasus on Sunday dismissed the reports published in several media publications which claimed that phones of journalists, Indian ministers, opposition leaders, and Supreme Court judges were targeted for surveillance.

It also said that it will consider filing a lawsuit for defamation against these media organisations.

Read Also: Pegasus Spyware: Phones of Indian Journos, Politicians, Judges, Activists Targeted, Says Media Report

“The report by Forbidden Stories is full of wrong assumptions and uncorroborated theories that raise serious doubts about the reliability and interests of the sources. It seems like the “unidentified sources” have supplied information that has no factual basis and is far from reality,” the company said in a statement.

“In fact, these allegations are so outrageous and far from reality that NSO is considering a defamation lawsuit,” they added.

It said that claims made by sources to Forbidden Stories “are based on a misleading interpretation of data from accessible and overt basic information, such as HLR Lookup services, which have no bearing on the list of the customers’ targets of Pegasus or any other NSO products”.

The claims that the data was leaked from our servers, is a complete lie and ridiculous since such data never existed on any of our servers, NSO said.

The firm also said that their technology was not used in any way to track Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi dissident who was brutally murdered inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018.

It also reiterated that the Pegasus technology was only sold to countries and law enforcement agencies.

“We would like to emphasize that NSO sells its technologies solely to law enforcement and intelligence agencies of vetted governments for the sole purpose of saving lives through preventing crime and terror acts. NSO does not operate the system and has no visibility to the data,” it stated.

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On Sunday, an investigation by The Wire had claimed that the phone numbers of Indian journalists were hacked by the Pegasus software.

According to the Wire, some of the journalists on the surveillance list were Siddharth Varadarajan and MK Venu, founding editors of The Wire Hindustan Times, including executive editor Shishir Gupta, India Today’s defence correspondent Sandeep Unnithan, and Manoj Gupta investigation and security affairs correspondent at TV 18.