India to form expert panel on claims of gov’t spying by Pegasus

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Gov’t informs Supreme Court of plans to form panel to ‘dispel any wrong narrative spread by certain vested interests.

NEW DELHI, India (AA) – The Indian government on Monday denied that it used the Israeli spyware program Pegasus, informing the country’s top court that it would set up a committee of experts to examine the issue.

As the country’s Supreme Court hears a set of petitions filed by multiple claimants seeking an independent probe into the allegations, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology argued that the petitions they filed were based on “conjectures and surmises” or on other unsubstantiated and unconfirmed media reports.

Filing an affidavit with the court, the ministry said, however, that the government would form the expert committee “with a view to dispel any wrong narrative spread by certain vested interests and with an object of examining the issues raised.”

It added that Electronics and Information Technology Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw had already clarified the government’s stance on the issue in parliament.

As reported by the Indian news website The Wire last month, rights activists, journalists, political leaders, and others were among those who were potential targets for surveillance in India. The Wire was among the consortium of news outlets reporting about the leaked records initially accessed by Paris-based Forbidden Stories and Amnesty International.

In a parliament session last month, Vaishnaw dubbed the report a “highly sensational story” and claimed it was an attempt to malign Indian democracy and its institutions.

A massive controversy erupted since the reports and the parliament’s monsoon session, which began on July 19 was marred also by the protest.

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