Monday, 26 Jul, 11.11 pm The Free Press Journal

Pegasus spyware row: Phones of top ED official, PMO officials, Kejriwal's aide were possibly hacked

NEW DELHI: Continuing with the release of names in the Pegasus spyware list, The Wire web news portal on Monday claimed the phone number of Rajeshwar Singh, a senior Enforcement Directorate official handling the sensitive 2G spectrum and Aircel-Maxis cases was hacked and so were the mobile numbers of his wife and two sisters.

He was put under surveillance by an Indian client of the Israeli spyware firm NSO since he handled several high-profile investigations, an investigation of the leaked data by The Wire and its global media partners on Pegasus Project has revealed.

Singh, a UP cadre police officer, has been with the ED since 2009. The cases he probed included Sahara Group amassing huge wealth and alleged disproportionate assets of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Jagan Reddy.

PMO OFFICIAL: An officer, who is currently an undersecretary in the Prime Minister's Office, was also selected for potential surveillance in 2017, the leaked records show. He oversaw Prime Minister Modi's tours in 2017 when the Indian client of the NSO Group showed interest in him.

The Wire spoke to him on the mobile number mentioned in the records. "I don't know if this list is accurate or if my number is there. The only thing I can say is that I am not such an important person whose number should be traced," he said. Details of the tours of the Prime Minister are always sensitive and can even involve a security risk to his life if leaked.

As The Wire and its Pegasus Project partners have maintained, unless the phones are technically examined, it is difficult to ascertain if the numbers from the potential list were actually infected. The Wire won't be able to confirm if Singh and his family were actually subjected to surveillance.

The leaked records indicate that the telephone number of a senior employee of the NITI Aayog - the Union government's policy think-tank - was also included as a probable target for surveillance. The Wire verified the number and spoke to the person involved but is withholding his identity at his request as they are no longer working in the government body.

KEJRIWAL'S AIDE: The Pegasus Project list also includes the phone number used by V.K. Jain, who was appointed as chief consultant at Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal's office.

Jain's phone number appeared in the leaked records in 2018, when, according to sources in the Delhi government, he handled the most significant files of the state government. As Kejriwal's primary aide during his first full term, Jain is closely tied to implementation of the chief minister's most prized welfare programmes like improving school education and health infrastructure in the city-state.

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