On Sunday, Forbidden Stories, a consortium of 16 media houses from across the world, in collaboration with left propaganda website from India, The Wire, released an alleged “bombshell” where they claimed that they had accessed a list of 50,000 names that were potentially being illegally surveilled by various “authoritarian regimes”, including India. The names that surfaced on Sunday included a list of 40 journalists (not all names were revealed) and the Left immediately jumped to claim that the Modi government was cracking down on dissidents.
However, these claims were just that – conjectures and lies that were peddled not only by The Guardian but also by The Wire. The lies and word chicanery in their attempt to target the Modi government was comprehensive debunked by us here.
While they have no evidence to claim that the Modi government snooped on journalists and others, in fact, the Modi govt categorically denied using the Pegasus software at all, the cabal has now dumped another set of names that they say were POTENTIAL targets of snooping.
The Guardian today published an article where they claimed that Rahul Gandhi was another POTENTIAL target of snooping “by the Modi govt”. To make their point, which is not based on facts, the featured image they used contained the photo of Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi.
In the article, The Guardian claims:
Two numbers belonging to Gandhi, who led the Congress party during India’s 2019 national elections, were selected as candidates for possible surveillance in the year before the vote and in the months afterwards by NSO, whose spying tool Pegasus allows customers to infiltrate mobile phones and monitor messages, camera feeds and microphones.
Phones belonging to at least five of Gandhi’s close friends and other Congress party officials were also identified as potential targets using the spyware, according to a leaked list of potential targets selected by NSO customers. The data was accessed by the nonprofit journalism organisation Forbidden Stories and Amnesty International and shared with the Guardian and other media outlets as part of the Pegasus project.
It is important to note that The Guardian only says that the number was “selected as potential target”. The turn of phrase makes it sound like the Indian govt had planned to hack these phones, however, the truth is far from it. It is pertinent to note that in the previous stories published by The Guardian, it had itself, repeatedly said that merely the fact that a number appears in the list does not mean that the phone was hacked or that any NSO client even intended to hack the phone.
Essentially, The Guardian is saying that Rahul Gandhi’s numbers appears on the NSO list that they claim to have accessed, however, there is no evidence that he was hacked or that anyone had planned to hack him, let alone the Indian govt that has refuted the claim that it even uses the Pegasus software.
Further, it is also pertinent to note here that The Guardian has repeatedly asserted that it does not have access to NSO’s client list. That means that they have no idea whether the Indian government is a client of NSO at all. NSO in fact spoke to ANI and said that the list of countries mentioned by the report is false and that some of the countries are not even their clients to begin with, however, due to privacy concerns, they can’t divulge their list of clients.
Therefore, to further draw the link that the Indian government POTENTIALLY hacked Rahul Gandhi’s phones is a lie, one that is being spread by The Guardian with impunity.
The Guardian further says:
It is not possible to say whether a phone in the leaked data was successfully hacked without forensic analysis. But the consortium confirmed Pegasus infections, or signs of potential targeting, on phones linked to 10 Indian numbers and on an additional 27 phones around the world.
Gandhi, who changes his device every few months to avoid surveillance, was not able to provide the phone he used at the time for examination. A successful hacking would have granted Modi’s government access to the private data of the prime minister’s primary challenger in the year before the 2019 elections.
The Guardian here admits that they have no idea whether Rahul Gandhi’s phone was hacked at all. However, they slyly make a conjecture that since they have supposedly found traces of Pegasus on 10 phones in India, it is entirely possible that this could be true.
It is to be remembered at this point that since the Modi govt has denied using Pegasus, nobody can say with certainly who really wanted to spy on the 10 journalists and others, if at all. As mentioned in our previous report, it could just as easily be China or the USA… or even Italy.
In the next paragraph, The Guardian takes the lies to an entirely new level.
It fist admits that no forensics was done on Rahul Gandhi’s phone because he was not even in possession of these purported phones any longer. However, after admitting that they had no proof, they claim that IF AT ALL Rahul Gandhi’s phone was hacked, it would give the Modi govt access to all his data.
Not only does the Guardian make a wild allegation of hacking without proof, after admitting that they had not done any forensic tests and the appearance of a name does not mean that the phone was hacked, but it also goes on to blatantly claim that at the off chance that it was hacked (no proof, remember), it was done by the Modi government (this, while the Modi government has denied using Pegasus at all).
Prashant Kishor phone hacked, says The Guardian – Convenient circumstances
The Guardian report claims that Amnesty International conducted a forensic test on the phone of Prashant Kishor and round that it had been hacked using the Pegasus software.
However, there is rather convenient catch in the story.
The Guardian writes:
Forensic analysis conducted on Wednesday on the phone of Prashant Kishor, a political strategist working for the party that defeated Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the West Bengal state election earlier this year, established it had been hacked using Pegasus as recently as the day it was examined.
So let us break this down. Prashant Kishor’s number was in the list of 50,000 numbers that the consortium claims to have accessed. Then, one day, they approach Kishor to give his phone for a forensic test. Prashant Kishor agrees. However, at this point, his phone has NOT been hacked yet, according to what The Guardian writes. Suddenly, the moment the analysis start checking his phone and conducting forensic tests, on that very day, the phone gets hacked.
There is something worse here. When was the test conducted? On Wednesday. Considering this story was written and published on Monday, that means less than a week ago – 14th of July 2021. How does this relate to the Bengal elections and the Modi govt snooping on him during the polls? Only Guardian can explain.
The Guardian report also says that there was “evidence of Pegasus intrusion” in April, in the thick of the Bengal Elections. However, what was the evidence and did the evidence conclude who actually hacked his phone? The Guardian does not say. It does not even mention the date on which it was hacked. It cannot because they have no proof to allege that it was the Modi government. But conjectures go a long way in affecting regime change – just ask the people who are funding this operation.
The Wire makes the exact conjectures while talking about former CJI Ranjan Gogoi and other staff members
The Wire too published a report based on the same database to say that “Three phone numbers belonging to the Supreme Court staffer who accused former Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi of sexual harassment in April 2019 were selected as potential targets for surveillance by an unidentified Indian agency that is a customer of the Israel-based-NSO Group, The Wire can confirm”.
Let us understand the implications of this. As explained earlier, they are also saying that these were “potential targets”, which means that the numbers appeared in the list of 50,000, but that, according to their own reports, is no proof that the phone was hacked. Further, The Wire CONFIRMED that it was by an “unidentified Indian agency”.
As explained earlier, there is no proof that the Indian govt or any Indian agency was a client of the NSO. Further, The Wire claims that the agency is “unidentified”. One has to ask then how is it CONFIRMING that it indeed was an Indian agency?
They do not have the client list of NSO, they have not identified this purported “Indian agency”, they have no proof of the involvement of the Indian govt at all and the Indian govt has denied that they are a client of Pegasus. However, that clearly did not stop The Wire from CONFIRMING, with confidence, that it indeed was an Indian agency – just that it was unidentified at the moment.
The Wire further says:
Her presence in the list, and the timing of her selection, suggest that the reason she and her family became persons of interest is because she went public with serious allegations against the sitting chief justice of India.
Nothing really suggests that. Her name in the list does not even suggest that she was hacked or that the Indian govt considered her a person of interest.
However, it is evident from another passage from The Guardian’s latest article that the aim is not really to focus on facts, but to create a narrative against the Modi govt.
The Guardian writes:
Analysis of the more than 1,000 mostly Indian phone numbers selected for potential targeting by the NSO client that hacked Kishor strongly indicate intelligence agencies within the Indian government were behind the selection.
Essentially, they went through 1,000 phone numbers (we don’t know who these people are, the list is not available) and decided that based on the nature of people, it MUST BE some intelligence agency within the Indian government. From all the facts that have come to the fore, we know already that this statement has no basis in reality and at least, stands completely unsubstantiated given what we know now.
Forbidden Stories, links to US establishment and regime change propaganda in middle east
The Wire received its information from Amnesty International and Forbidden Stories. FS was launched by the Freedom Voices Network and the Reporters Without Borders (RSF). RSF, in the past, has funded media organisations that fund regime change propaganda to justify USA’s illegal wars in the Middle East.
FS is also funded by groups associated with The Omidyar Group, George Soros’s Open Society Foundations among others who manufacture western propaganda to justify its forever wars. Thus, combined with everything that has been pointed out above in the report, the dubious nature of the source of information itself makes the allegations against the Indian Government rather unbelievable.