Fake story created on tapping: Lekhi
Union minister Meenakshi Lekhi on Thursday said a “fake story” about the illegal tapping has been “crafted, created and circulated” amid demands by the opposition parties for a probe into the alleged targeting by Israeli spyware Pegasus of politicians, journalists, and constitutional authorities. The opposition lawmakers sought an explanation over the matter and disrupted Parliament proceedings on Thursday.
Lekhi said NSO, the manufacturer of Pegasus, has denied that the list out in the media is indeed that of its customers. “The published story (about the targeting) is based on a list of numbers available in a directory. Second, Amnesty International has denied this. The company whose product is Pegasus has claimed that these claims are uncorroborated and do not tally with its customer base.”
Amnesty International, however, maintained that it stands by the findings related to the alleged targeting and said the data is irrefutably linked to potential targets of NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware.
Lekhi said 10 countries have been named for using the spyware and asked whether the opposition in any of these places reacted as it has in India. She said the fake narrative has been created to “malign India” and “undermine institutions” on the basis of reports that “are not based on evidence”.
Other countries are Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Hungary, India, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Morocco, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, according to the reports.
“These kinds of stories are floated to undermine Indian institutions and stop the Data Protection Bill that is set to become the law of the land. This is to desensitise the public of the credibility of the structures and to malign the image of our country.” She said there is a pattern in controversies surrounding the government.
“Whenever something right and good is supposed to happen in the country, this kind of conduct is indulged in…There is a chronology.” w Lekhi said the JPC report on Data Protection has been submitted to the Lok Sabha Speaker.
Lekhi said the government is serious about the data safety of Indians. “Repeatedly, these narratives are built to damage the reputation of India. They want to damage the ecosystem protective of the Indian people.”