The Wire published what it called an ‘explosive story‘ on Sunday involving allegations of spying with spyware Pegasus but unfortunately for them, it turned out to be a rather damp squib. The most startling part is that by their own admission, there is no evidence that the Indian Government was involved in any of it. It could very well be that adversarial governments wanted to coerce Indian journalists into peddling their agenda given that the Pegasus spyware was in the possession of foreign governments as well.
Interestingly, however, The Wire and its partners were fed the information by two very dubious organisations. One was Amnesty International and the other was Forbidden Stories. Since the antics of Amnesty are already well documented and so is its animosity towards the Indian Government, we shall first look into Forbidden Stories (FS). And it is important that we remember here that the entire series of reports by The Wire and others is based on information provided by these two organisations.
According to its website, “Forbidden Stories ensures that journalists under threat can secure their information.” “We provide them with the ability to drop their sensitive information into one of our secure communication channels. If something happens to them, we will ensure the survival of their stories, beyond borders, beyond governments, beyond censorship,” it adds.
FS was launched by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and Freedom Voices Network. In the past, the RSF has funded media organisations that produce regime change propaganda against Syria and its president Bashar al-Assad. RSF itself receives funding from the US Government. Thus, the inclinations of at least one of the founders of FS becomes abundantly clear.
A casual glance at the funders of FS is even more revealing. While it takes cares to mention that donors do not influence their coverage, it is only in an extremely idealistic world that this rings true. Since we do not live in one, there’s no reason for us to take their words at face value.
One of the donors of FS is Limelight Foundation (LF). The LF funds numerous organisations. One of the prominent among them is Bellingcat, a media initiative that produces propaganda that seeks to legitimize the West’s illegal war against Syria.
Bellingcat has extensive ties to NATO, as reported by The Grayzone, and has cooperated with United Kingdom’s efforts to “weaken Russia”. In addition, it also receives grants from the National Endowment for Democracy, which in turn is a US Government funded project.
Another donor of FS is Luminate, founded by The Omidyar Group in 2018. Luminate’s Strategic Plan for 2018-2022 mentions that “‘Illiberal democracies’ are emerging,” “Civic space is shrinking, and civil society is under attack,” “Rising populism is creating ruptures in historical party politics,” “Insular, nationalist perspectives are resonating with more people,” and “Communities are becoming more polarized among other things.
While the strategic plan and its animosity towards nationalism makes its ideological orientations abundantly clear, it is important to note that the Omidyar Group funds a host of media organisations worldwide, mostly leftist globalist portals such as Scroll.in.
As per The Grayzone, Luminate donated to the Sundance Institute for producing films “used strategically to articulate pressing public issues and movement-building campaigns.” The Grayzone report states, “Among the films cited by Omidyar’s Luminate as a strategic success was The Last Men in Aleppo, an Oscar-nominated propaganda vehicle for the Syrian White Helmets that was produced by the Sundance Institute.”
According to the report, “The White Helmets are a Syrian insurgent-aligned “civil rescue” group founded in Turkey by a British former military intelligence officer. Operating exclusively in rebel-held territory, including in the al Qaeda-controlled Idlib province, the White Helmets have been funded by USAID, the U.K. Foreign Office and the Qatari monarchy.”
Thus, Luminate which funds FS is known to fund propaganda movies to justify the West’s regime change war against Syria. Furthermore, as per The Grayzone, Luminate was run by Ben Scott, an Obama Administration official who has also worked in Hillary Clinton’s State Department.
Other donors to FS include George Soros’ Open Society Foundations (OSF), whose attitude towards the Indian Government is well documented, and Wellspring Philanthropic Fund, which is cloaked in a shroud of secrecy.
FS also proudly displayed the endorsement by Mediapart’s Head of Investigations Fabrice Afri on its website until recently. Mediapart is the same leftist French organisation that has been peddling propaganda over the Rafale deal. FS has now removed the page “The support us” altogether from its website.
Amnesty is known to have links to the British Government and was accused of having links to the Taliban. In 2020, Amnesty was forced to shut shop in India after its accounts were frozen by the Indian Government.
Amnesty was in violation of Indian laws after never registering under the FCRA, which is a requirement for all foreign-funded NGOs. The NGO regularly peddled the Jihadist line on Kashmir and its former India head Aakar Patel is known to make inflammatory comments regarding Indian domestic issues.
Thus, quite clearly, the information that The Wire chose to rely on for its ‘explosive’ report did not come from neutral sources. They came from sources that are intricately linked to western governments who regularly serve as their propaganda wing.
The donors of these sources are known to have been involved in peddling propaganda for regime change operations in the Middle East, which served the interests of western governments, especially the USA. Now, we have more information coming from these same biased sources that are being used to undermine governments abroad.
NSO, the Tel-Aviv based firm that owns the spyware Pegasus, threatened to file a defamation suit against The Wire for its report. “The report by Forbidden Stories is full of wrong assumptions and uncorroborated theories that raise serious doubts about the reliability and interests of the sources. It seems like the ‘unidentified sources’ have supplied information that has no factual basis and is far from reality,” the company said.
At the same time, Siddharth Varadarajan, the founding-editor of The Wire, is a core member of the group South Asia Media Defenders Network (SAMDEN), which is a project of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI). CHRI receives funds from the US State Department and its members regularly interfere with Indian internal matters, such as the Citizenship Amendment Act.
Thus, every entity involved in the production of the Pegasus report which targets the Indian Government without any evidence has links to western governments. Their donors serve as propaganda wings for western interests. Therefore, the credibility of the reports is severely undermined by such associations.