Indian opposition accuses Modi of ‘treason’ over phone snooping scandal

New Delhi, Jul 19 (EFE).- India’s main opposition party, the Indian National Congress, on Monday accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of “treason” over the alleged surveillance of the mobile phones of political leaders, journalists and activists through the Pegasus spyware of Israeli company NSO Group.

“Modi government is the deployer and executor of this illegal and unconstitutional snooping and spying racket through Israeli surveillance software Pegasus,” Congress said in a statement.

The party said that the surveillance amounted to “treason and total abdication of national security by the Modi government,” and blamed Home Minister Amit Shah of carrying out the snooping with the prime minister’s consent.

Congress said that one if its main leaders, Rahul Gandhi, and many of his close associates appeared on the leaked list of 50,000 numbers possibly targeted for surveillance.

“A perusal of the website of the NSA Group reflects that Pegasus spyware and all NSO products are exclusively sold to governments only,” said the party, adding that “it is clear that government of India and its agencies bought the software.”

The Pegasus Project is a probe jointly being carried out by more than 80 journalists of 17 media organizations from 10 countries, coordinated by Forbidden Stories – a media nonprofit based in Paris – and supported by Amnesty International, which carried out forensic analysis of mobile phones to identify traces of spyware.

The phone numbers on the list also belong to countries such as Mexico, Hungry and Morocco.

India news website The Wire, which was part of the investigation, has claimed that around 300 Indian numbers figured on the list, including those of two ministers and around 40 journalists as well as opposition leaders and activists.

The Indian government on Monday said reports that the NSO Group spyware was used to target journalists, human rights defenders and politicians in the country were “sensationalist.”

“Any form of illegal surveillance isn’t possible with checks and balances in our laws and robust institutions, (…) we clearly see that there is no substance whatsoever behind this sensationalism,” Communications and Information Technology Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw told the parliament.

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