NSO Group, which owns spyware Pegasus, has stated that the list that is being circulated as containing ‘potential targets’ is not associated with them in any manner. The company told NDTV that it is “not related to the list published by Forbidden Stories”. According to the company, the list of Indian phone numbers that were supposedly ‘potential targets’ of surveillance was “not ours, never was”.
Forbidden Stories is the name of the journalism project that had provided information to The Wire and other media organisations along with Amnesty International. “It is not a NSO list, and it never was – it is fabricated information. It is not a list of targets or potential targets of NSO’s customers,” spokesperson for the NSO Group told NDTV and added that “repeated reliance on this list and association of people on this list as potential surveillance targets is false and misleading.”
The company also said that it does not have access to the data of its customers and added that its clients “are obligated to provide us with such information under investigation”. “If and when NSO receives credible proof of misuse of its technologies, it will conduct a thorough investigation, as it always had and always will,” the spokesperson stated.
NSO Group had threatened to file defamation suit against The Wire for publishing a report that claimed phones of journalists, Indian ministers, Supreme Court judges, opposition leaders and other notable personalities were targeted for surveillance.
The Israeli firm, through its defamation counsel, Clare Locke, sent a letter to The Wire threatening defamation suit against them for making unsubstantiated claims through their reports about the surveillance of eminent individuals in India.
“…we are writing to put The Wire on written notice of NSO Group’s substantial concerns regarding the false and damaging nature of the proposed articles—and the risks that The Wirefaces should it decide to publish the proposed articles (or excerpts of the proposed articles,” the statement read.