The Editors Guild of India has written to the probe panel instituted by the Supreme Court, asking it to inquire into the claims by the recent New York Times report on Pegasus. On 28 January, the newspaper had reported the Indian government had purchased the Pegasus spyware from Israel in 2017.
The Guild, in a statement, said that it has noted with the deep concern the claims made in the NYT report that the Indian and Israeli governments “had agreed on the sale of a package of sophisticated weapons and intelligence gear worth roughly $2 billion — with Pegasus and a missile system as the centerpieces.”
In a letter to retired Supreme Court judge Justice RV Raveendran, the Editors Guild of India requested the committee to to seek responses from the Union government, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India, and secretaries of the ministries that may have been involved in the alleged 2017 deal.
“The claims in the NYT are in stark contrast to the stance of the Government of India, which has been and continues to be vague and non committal in its response to these extremely serious allegations that whether they purchased the spyware, and more disturbingly, if it was used against Indian citizens, including journalists and civil society members,’ read the statement.
Justice Raveendran is the head of the three-member technical committee appointed by the Supreme Court on October 27 to investigate allegations about the Pegasus spyware.
The Guild further stated that the proceedings of the Committee should be kept open to public so that “there is complete transparency with respect to the witnesses being called as well as their responses.”
Meanwhile, a fresh plea has been filed in the Supreme Court on the alleged use of the Israeli spyware, seeking that the court take cognisance of the NYT report.
In July, several media organisations across the world had reported on the use of Pegasus, which has been developed by the NSO Group. In India, The Wire had reported that 161 Indians were spied on using Pegasus.