India tried to bug PM Imran, ministers’ phones using Israeli spy software

Civilian and military leadership meet to assess situation after phone hacking racket exposed

By: 24 News      Published: 04:54 PM, 19 Jul, 2021
India tried to bug PM Imran, ministers’ phones using Israeli spy software

Pakistan military and civilian leadership met after startling revelations that India was involved in spying and recording phone calls and messages of Prime Minister Imran Khan and cabinet members through an Israeli phone malware software, reported 24NewsHD TV channel quoting sources on Monday. 

Sources say Pakistani authorities consulted to launch a new application for cabinet members, government officers on the pattern of WhatsApp.

 Pakistan is preparing a future course of action after India tried to hack the phones of Prime Minister Imran Khan and Cabinet ministers with the help of Israeli spy malware Pegasus, sources say. 

Media reports say, rights activists, journalists and lawyers around the world have been targeted with phone malware sold to the authoritarian governments by an Israeli surveillance firm. They are on a list of some 50,000 phone numbers of people believed to be of interest to clients of the company, NSO Group, leaked to major news outlets.

It was not clear where the list came from - or how many phones had actually been hacked. Media reports say the software is intended to nab criminals and terrorists and is made available only to military, law enforcement, and intelligence agencies of the countries having good human rights records.

The media reports said the original investigation which led to the reports, by Paris-based NGO Forbidden Stories and the human rights group Amnesty International, was "full of wrong assumptions and uncorroborated theories". But it added that it would "continue to investigate all credible claims of misuse and take appropriate action".

The allegations about the use of the software, known as Pegasus, were carried on Sunday by the Washington Post, the Guardian, Le Monde, and 14 other media organisations around the world. Pegasus infects iPhones and Android devices to enable operators to extract messages, photos, and emails, record calls, and secretly activate microphones and cameras.

The reports released on Sunday said “authoritarian governments” abused the Pegasus software, “hacking 37 smartphones,” according to a report by the Washington Post.

According to the Guardian, the leak contains a list of more than 50,000 numbers believed to have been of interest to clients of NSO since 2016.

However, the mention of phone numbers in the leaked data does not necessarily mean that those devices were hacked, it said.

The Washington Post reported numbers on the list also belonged to heads of state and prime ministers, members of Arab royal families, diplomats and politicians, as well as activists and business executives.

The list also included journalists belonging to media organisations around the world Agence France-Presse, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, The New York Times, Al Jazeera, France 24, Radio Free Europe, Mediapart, El País, the Associated Press, Le Monde, Bloomberg, the Economist, Reuters and Voice of America, the Guardian said.

Reporter Awais Kiyani & media reports