Pegasus snooping: MHA asks Karnataka government to investigate Siddaramaiah’s complaint

Bengaluru: Union Ministry of Home affairs has instructed the Karnataka government to scrutinise the complaint made by former Chief Minister and Congress leader Siddaramaiah that he was spied on with the Pegasus spyware.

The leader of Opposition in Karnataka, Siddaramaiah, petitioned the Union government through the Presidentā€™s secretariat with a July 22, 2021 letter saying he had been a target of ā€œillegal spying and surveillanceā€ with the controversial Pegasus spyware.

Following the petition, the Presidentā€™s secretariat referred the matter to the MHA on September 13.

ā€œSince police and public order are state subjects under the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution of India, it is the responsibility of the concerned state government to prevent, detect, register crime and prosecute the criminals involved through the machinery of its law enforcement agencies and hence you may take action on the representation, as deemed appropriate,ā€ the MHA has said in a letter of October 25 to the state chief secretary.

Siddaramaiah alleged the Pegasus spyware was illegally used to spy on his personal assistant M Venkatesh. The allegation was made after an international consortium of journalists revealed that the spyware was used to spy on people around the world.

The senior Congress leader in his letter to the President on July 22 said people of the country are shocked and surprised to notice on July 18, 2021 that series of news reports in publications around the world revealed that more than 1,000 Indian mobile numbers of various personalities were targeted for surveillance including those of opposition party leaders, union ministers, supreme court judges, journalists, election commission members and other dignified and important persons of the country by using the Pegasus spyware of NSO Group of Israeli company.

“Pegasus Spyware is a commercial company, which works on paid contracts. The questions arise on who paid them for the ‘Indian Operation’. If it is not the Government of India, then who it is?” Siddaramaiah wrote in his letter to the President.

The journalistsā€™ consortium revealed that ahead of the fall of a Congress-JDS government in Karnataka in 2019, the phones of key aides of top Karnataka political leaders like Siddaramaiah, the then JDS Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy and Congress deputy CM G Parameshwara may have been targeted for spying using the Pegasus spyware sold by the Israeli firm NSO.


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