This Article is From Jul 22, 2021

Ex-CBI Chief Added To Pegasus List After Being Sacked In 2018: Report

Alok Verma was sent on compulsory leave in October 2018 by the government, reinstated by the Supreme Court three months later, and then fired just a few days later.

Alok Verma was fired as CBI director by a panel led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

New Delhi:

Former CBI chief Alok Verma, who was fired in 2018 after a clash with the government, was added to a list of targets for surveillance with the Israeli spyware Pegasus just hours after the sacking, news website The Wire reported on Thursday.

"Hours after PM Modi acted to oust Alok Verma from his post as head of the CBI at midnight on October 23, 2018, three telephone numbers registered in his name were added to a list of possible targets for surveillance," the website reported.

"Along with Verma, the personal telephone numbers of his wife, daughter and son-in-law would eventually get placed on the list too, making it a total of 8 numbers from this one family," it added.

"Also added to the list of numbers at the same time as Verma were two other senior CBI officials, Rakesh Asthana and AK Sharma. Both men were added on to the database about an hour after their former boss," The Wire reported.

The inclusion of phone numbers, however, may not mean that his device was infected with Pegasus, as that can only be confirmed through forensic analysis.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, political strategist Prashant Kishor, Union Ministers and dozens of journalists were found on the list of targets earlier this week in the scandal that has been dubbed "bigger than Watergate" by the opposition and strenuously dismissed by the government.

The Wire is among 17 media organisations that are publishing the investigation that says Pegasus had been used in attempted or successful hacks of smartphones using malware that enables the extraction of messages, records calls and secretly activates microphones.

The maker of the spyware NSO, which has said it sells its spyware to only "vetted governments", has rejected the reports as "full of wrong assumptions and uncorroborated theories". NDTV has not independently verified the reporting.