Chennai: Reacting to news reports which claimed that more than 300 verified mobile phone numbers, including of two serving Ministers and over 40 journalists, were targeted for hacking through an Israeli spyware sold only to government agencies, the government of India has responded in an email shared with news agency ANI.
The government called the allegations a fishing expedition, based on conjectures and exaggerations to malign the Indian democracy and its institutions.
India is a ‘robust democracy committed to ensuring the right to privacy to all its citizens as a fundamental right’, the government said in response to some of the media organisations that reported on Sunday a surveillance operation targeting politicians, journalists and activists.
“The commitment to free speech as a fundamental right is the cornerstone of India’s democratic system. We have always strived to attain an informed citizenry with an emphasis on a culture of open dialogue,” it said.
Phone numbers of Indian Ministers, opposition leaders and journalists have been found on a database of targets for hacking that used Israeli spyware ‘Pegasus’ – only available to governments – reported The Wire and other publications on Sunday.
Members of the legal community, businessmen, government officials, scientists, activists and others are also on the list of over 300 verified Indian mobile telephone numbers, the reports said.