After removal as CBI chief, 8 phones of Alok Verma, kin listed for Pegasus snooping, claims report

Eight phones belonging to then-CBI director Alok Verma and members of his family were added to a list of targeted devices by an unidentified Indian agency using malware. Pegasus spyware shortly after he was cleared of covetousness charges on October 23, 2018, The Wire reported on Thursday. Along with Verma, the phone of Special Director Rakesh Asthana, with whom he registered a corruption case on October 21, 2018, and then Joint Director AK Sharma were also included in the list of directors. monitored using sophisticated malware, it said.

According to the report, 8 phones belonging to Verma’s family, including 3 of his own, along with his wife, daughter and son-in-law, have been put on the list of concerns by Israeli tracking malware.

All of these numbers, including Asthana and Sharma, remained on the list for a short time until Verma’s retirement on January 31, 2019. They were dropped from the list in February. in 2019, it said.

Israeli group NSO claims the leaked database was accessed by a French non-profit media organization Forbidden story has nothing to do with it or the Pegasus software being used by “checked governments”.

The government and ruling BJP have dismissed Project Pegasus reports as cover-ups and without evidence.

IT and Law Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw, whose private phone number is among those listed as compromised, said in a statement in Parliament on Thursday that the reports were “attempts to corrupt Indian democracy and its well-established institutions”.

According to The Wire, one of 15 international media organizations that shared the database, Verma declined to participate in the story thus forensic examination of his phone was the only way to determine if they were stolen. Whether infected with snooping malware successfully or not, cannot be done.

Questions seeking responses from Verma, Asthana and Sharma remain unanswered.

While Verma and Sharma are retired, Asthana is the head of the Border Security Force that guards the sensitive borders with Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Verma and Asthana were forced to take a break from the Center in an unprecedented order late at night on October 23, 2018.

The order to divest Verma from his position as CBI director, with a fixed term of two years, was issued nearly three months before he is scheduled to complete his term on January 31, 2019.

The controversial directive was overturned by Supreme Court was later issued two days after Verma convicted Asthana of corruption and conducted a search. Asthana was subsequently cleared by the CBI of all charges of having investigated the allegations against him.

On Sunday, an international media consortium reported that more than 300 mobile phone numbers had been verified, including those of two ministers, more than 40 journalists, three opposition leaders and a sitting judge. in addition to scores of entrepreneurs and activists in India may have been targeted through spyware attacks.

A French non-profit media group Forbidden Stories has access to a leaked database of 50,000 numbers believed to be related to potential Pegasus targets. The database has been shared with 15 other media partners globally including The Wire in India. | After removal as CBI chief, 8 phones of Alok Verma, kin listed for Pegasus snooping, claims report


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