India has consistent policy to treat Dalai Lama as an honoured guest: MEA

By PTI
NEW DELHI: Top ring of advisers around the Dalai Lama and several leaders of the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (NSCN) are among those listed as potential targets of Israeli spyware Pegasus, an international media consortium reported on Thursday.

In the continuing series of reports on revelations from the international collaborative journalistic investigation called the Pegasus Project, the Wire has reported that phone numbers of multiple people close to Dubai Princess Sheikha Latifa, who was captured by Indian soldiers in 2018, were added to a list of potential targets for surveillance.

According to a report in The Guardian, the phone numbers of the top ring of advisers around the Dalai Lama are believed to have been selected as those of people of interest by government clients of NSO Group.

“Analysis strongly indicates that the Indian government was selecting the potential targets. Other phone numbers apparently selected by Delhi were those of the president of the government-in-exile, Lobsang Sangay, staff in the office of another Buddhist spiritual leader, the Gyalwang Karmapa, and several other activists and clerics who are part of the exiled community in India,” it claimed.

“Senior advisers to the Dalai Lama whose numbers appear in the data include Tempa Tsering, the spiritual leader’s long-time envoy to Delhi, and the senior aides Tenzin Taklha and Chhimey Rigzen, as well as Samdhong Rinpoche, the head of the trust that has been tasked with overseeing the selection of the Buddhist leader’s successor,” the report added.

The Pegasus spyware was created by Israeli technology firm NSO.

The government has dismissed the reports on the use of Pegasus software to snoop on Indians, saying the allegations levelled just ahead of the Monsoon session of Parliament are aimed at “maligning Indian democracy”.

In a separate report by the Wire, the phone numbers of several top leaders of the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak Muivah), NSCN (I-M) were added to a list of numbers of persons of interest believed to be generated by an Indian client of the Israeli spyware company.

“In the aftermath of the August 2015 framework agreement, which is intended to resolve the six-decade-old Naga political issue, the NSCN (I-M) has been in talks with the Modi government to flesh out the details of a final settlement.

Among the top leaders of the NSCN (I-M) whose phone numbers have been found in the leaked database are that of Atem Vashum, Apam Muivah, Anthony Shimray and Phunthing Shimrang.

“The leaked records also shows that N.Kitovi Zhimomi, convenor of the Naga National Political Groups (NNPGs), with which the Modi government is also in parleys to find ‘one solution’ to the Naga issue since end 2017, was selected as a possible candidate for surveillance towards the end of 2017,” the Wire report said.

In another report, the Wire said, after princess Sheikha Latifa fled Dubai – where her father, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, is the ruler – her closest relatives and friends had their telephone numbers added to a list of potential targets of a military-grade spyware.

“Latifa’s own number was added just before she fled but she had ditched her phone in Dubai before slipping across to Oman.

While the UAE authorities had multiple methods of surveillance at their disposal, the analysis of a leaked database highlights how her escape seems to have coincided with the inclusion of several numbers related to Latifa appearing on a list of potential Pegasus targets,” the report said.

The reports have been published by The Wire in collaboration with 16 other international publications including the Washington Post, The Guardian and Le Monde, as media partners to an investigation conducted by Paris-based media non-profit organisation Forbidden Stories and rights group Amnesty International.

The investigation focuses on a leaked list of more than 50,000 phone numbers from across the world that are believed to have been the target of surveillance through Pegasus software of Israeli surveillance company NSO Group.