‘Pegasus’ spyware was linked in toppling of Kumaraswamy govt

‘Pegasus’ spyware was linked in toppling of Kumaraswamy govt

New Delhi: Was Israeli spyware Pegasus used to topple H.D. Kumaraswamy led JD(S)- Congress government in 2019?

According to the reports in the Wire, JD(S)- Congress coalition government was the possible target under Pegasus snooping spyware. In 2019, In 2019, 17 rebel Congress and JD(S) MLAs had dethroned the H.D.Kumarasaswamy government by resigning to their Assembly membership. 

The report disclosed that phone numbers of personal secretaries of former chief ministers, H.D.Kumaraswamy, Siddaramaiah were under the scanner of Pegasus. The phone of then deputy Chief Minister Dr. G.Parameshwar was also under the surveillance of Pegasus spyware. 

But there is no evidence was established to prove whether the phones of personal secretaries of Karnataka politicians were hacked. 

In 2019, the Kumaraswamy-led coalition government was struggling to survive following the resignations of 17 rebel MLAs. 

The Wire stated that these numbers showed up in its review of the list of numbers "of interest" to an Indian client of Israel's NSO Group, which sells its Pegasus spyware only to governments.

The wire stated that the “phone number of former chief minister Siddaramaiah’s personal secretary Venkatesh was also added in the same period.”

“Since many years, Mr. Siddaramaiah is not using a personal phone, thus relies on his aides for phone conversations. Therefore, the selection of Venkatesh’s phone number as a potential target for surveillance in this period assumes immense significance”, stated in the report. 

Read: Pegasus spyware scandal: Opposition insists JPC probe

Further report reveals that two phone numbers belonging to Satish, the personal secretary of then chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy, were selected for potential targeting in mid-2019 when the Congress-JD(S) government was struggling to win back the rebels.

Also phone number of Manjunath Muddegowda, security personal of former Prime Minister and JD(S) president H.D. Devegowda, also appears in the leaked records. His number was selected as a potential target in mid-2019.

Former deputy chief minister G. Parameshwara was also selected as a potential candidate during the middle of this political controversy. 

However, BJP has denied the allegations that Pegasus spyware was used to topple JD(S)- Congress coalition government. Party said that the Speaker disqualified all rebel MLAs, later they joined BJP, contested from BJP tickets in the bye-elections after B.S.Yediyurappa government came to power. 

Read: Pegasus Spyware Row: NSO group denies reports on snooping

“The records indicate that the phone numbers of some of the key political players in Karnataka appear to have been selected around the time when an intense power struggle was taking place between the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Janata Dal (Secular)-Congress-led state government in 2019”, Wire said.