Ex union minister and BJP MP Ravi Shankar Prasad on Thursday attacked the Congress over the Pegasus spyware row – which has seen the ruling party accused of violating citizens’ constitutional rights – and claimed the opposition party had, in fact, bugged the office of late president Pranab Mukherjee when he was a Congress leader and the union finance minister.
“Congress party should not preach to us about spying… when late Pranab Mukherjee was finance minister, Congress bugged his office. As per a reply to an RTI in 2013, around 9,000 phones and 500 e-mail accounts were watched every month by the UPA (Congress-led United Progressive Alliance) government.”
“The crucial point to note is that a high-powered technical committee… supervised by a judge of the Supreme Court… has not found any Pegasus virus in any of the 29 mobiles submitted for the examination,” he said.
“Will Rahul Gandhi apologise now for accusing us of treason?” he asked, referring to the Congress MP’s stinging attacks on the BJP on this issue.
READ | It is ‘treason’, says Rahul Gandhi on snooping row; targets Modi, Shah
Earlier today a Supreme Court bench led by outgoing chief justice NV Ramana said there was inconclusive evidence (based on the report of the Justice Indu Malhotra committee) of the Israeli-made spyware on the 29 phones analysed.
The panel did, however, find traces of unidentified malware in five of the phones. The panel also said the government did not co-operate with the probe.
READ | Supreme Court Pegasus hearing: Panel says govt didn’t cooperate
The top court opted to keep confidential two reports of a technical nature, but said the third – by ex-judge Justice RV Raveendran – would be released.
In July 2021, a consortium of media outlets and investigative journalists said phones of Indian ministers, politicians, activists, businessmen, and journalists were among 50,000 selected for infection with the Pegasus malware.
READ | Pegasus panel did not find snooping proof on devices?
Three Hindustan Times journalists were on the list, as were Rahul Gandhi, political strategist Prashant Kishor, former election commissioner Ashok Lavasa, and Union ministers Prahlad Patel and Ashwini Vaishnaw.
The malware is regarded as a military-grade tool, deploying cutting-edge methods to infect a person’s device and intercept calls, turn on the microphone or camera, and access all data, including messages, photos, and videos.
The reports triggered a massive fight between the government – which insisted that the claims were false and that there were sufficient checks and balances in the system to guard against such misuse – and the opposition, which demanded a thorough investigation.
With input from ANI
Read the full article here