The Supreme Court of India has ordered a hearing on October 27 to find out whether the government has spied on political opponents, journalists and activists through Israeli software. The decision is considered a significant success for the complainants, following repeated skipping proceedings by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration.
A massive spy network has put the Indian government on the ropes. The country’s Supreme Court has ordered the formation of an independent panel to investigate a state that allegedly spied on dozens of people, including political rivals, activists, businessmen and journalists.
The panel of experts has the power to call witnesses, request official documents and take action against those involved or the government if they refuse to cooperate with the investigation.
The delegation will consist of three cyber security experts and their work will be overseen by a retired judge of the Supreme Court. The results of the investigation must be submitted within a maximum of two months.
According to the indictment, the officers intercepted the devices using Pegasus software, a cybernetic tool called NSO, an Israeli company capable of intercepting a smartphone, extracting its contents, turning on the microphone and camera and listening to its owner’s calls. Leaving little trace.
The Indian opposition has demanded that Indian officials explain how and for what purpose the Israeli intelligence mechanism was used.
Judges of an Indian court have criticized Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government for refusing to articulate against the allegations and confirmed that so far New Delhi has only issued a “vague denial of the allegations”.
“The government cannot get a free pass (allegedly spying) to raise national security concerns. No injunction can be sought against the judicial review, ”the judges stressed.
Siddharth Varadarajan, founder and editor-in-chief of India’s non-profit website ‘Wire’ and co-investigator of the press conference, told The Guardian that the announcement on Wednesday was “a good start. The Supreme Court has refused to buy into the government’s ‘national security’ logic.”
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It is followed by an Indian court order An investigation by the Forbidden Stories Federation, which includes 17 international media outlets, released a report last July confirming that the mobile phones of 50,000 interested individuals in various countries had been hacked by their governments.
Among those reported as spies was Hatice Cengiz, the future wife of Saudi journalist Jamal Kashoki, who was assassinated in October 2018 at her embassy in Istanbul; As well as 24 foreign correspondents in France, including reporters from the American news agency AP, CNN, The New York Times, Le Monde, Financial Times and the Arab network Al Jazeer.
In India, spying targets include a list of more than 1,000 phone numbers associated with journalists and political opponents such as opposition leader Rahul Gandhi, government officials and human rights defenders, some of whom are in jail today.
Surveillance laws allow wiretapping, but even the government prohibits “theft” so investigations in that country can have far-reaching consequences.
With AP, AFP and local media
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