An explosive new report claims that India bought Pegasus spyware from Israel as part of a defense deal in 2017. It says that Pegasus and a missile system were the centerpieces of the deal.
The New York Times report titled ‘The Battle for the World’s Most Powerful Cyberweapon’ puts the Indian PM Narendra Modi’s Israel visit at the center of the controversy.
In the report, NYT says that Pegasus promised to “consistently and reliably crack the encrypted communications of any iPhone or Android smartphone.” It allowed NSO Group to make it popular among dictatorial and paranoid governments alike.
India Bought Pegasus
India’s use of Pegasus has been under question in the past too. None of the senior leadership have neither acknowledged nor denied it. Even the Supreme Court’s questions have been deflected in the name of national security.
The Supreme court created a special committee to find out whether the Indian government used Pegasus. However, the NYT report tries to put that question to rest.
According to the report, India’s long-term cooperation plan with Israel started with this defense deal. India bought Pegasus and a missile system as part of a $2 billion defense deal.
It also mentions that India supported Israel at the UN Economic and Social Council to deny observer status to a Palestinian human rights organization.
Aside from claims about India, the NYT says that the FBI also bought a version of Pegasus. However, U.S. intelligence decided not to deploy it, and stories about the spyware broke the internet around the same time.
Pegasus proved to be an effective counter-terrorist weapon in many scenarios. It helped in the capture of the Mexican drug lord El Chappo, and to bust a global child-abuse ring.
However, the same software was then deployed by the same countries to spy on journalists and dissidents. So clearly, it was the reckless use that drove Pegasus into broad daylight, something that both its makers as well as users didn’t want.
You can visit our Pegasus updates article if you want to learn more about Pegasus or follow a timeline of how the Pegasus controversy is evolving.