Concocted, fabricated and evidence-less, says Union minister Meenakshi Lekhi on Pegasus snooping allegations

New Delhi: Refuting media reports on Pegasus snooping allegations, Union minister and BJP leader Meenakshi Lekhi on Thursday (July 22) said that the story is “concocted, fabricated and evidence-less”. 

Addressing a press conference at the BJP headquarters in Delhi, Lekhi said that the “fake list is like a collection of mobile numbers drawn from yellow pages and those have been used for yellow journalism”, PTI reported. 

She was referring to media reports published under “Pegasus project” which have revealed that the numbers of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, other opposition politicians, poll strategist Prashant Kishor, two union ministers, Trinamool Congress leader Abhishek Banerjee and some 40 journalists were selected as potential targets of snooping. However, it could not be established that all numbers found on the leaked database were hacked. 

“The published story is based on a list of numbers available in any directory. Second, Amnesty International has denied this. The company (NSO) which manufactures Pegasus has said that these claims are uncorroborated and do not tally with their customer base,” Lekhi claimed. 

Contrary to Lekhi’s remark on Amnesty International, the human rights group associated with Pegasus Project, denying the existence of a list of potential targets of the alleged snooping, the group has issued a statement that it “categorically stands” by the findings of the Pegasus Project. Further, it asserted that the data is irrefutably linked to potential targets of Israel-based NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware.

When asked if the government has used the Pegasus spyware, Lekhi said such “security information is classified as the government has to deal with terrorists and Maoists.”

“I cannot tell you about what software I am working with. It will amount to assisting terrorists. The Congress should first clarify if it is with terrorists,” the news agency quoted her as saying. 

Earlier in the day, Members of Parliament of Trinamool Congress tore papers and flung them into the air in Rajya Sabha as IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw read a statement on the alleged snooping using an Israeli company spyware Pegasus. 

(With agency inputs)

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