India bought Israeli spyware Pegasus in 2017 as part of $2 billion defence deal, claims a report in the New York Times on January 28th. Raising questions on PM Modi’s visit to Israel in 2017, the NYT report insinuates that the Pegasus spyware was bought by India in 2017 during PM Modi’s visit to Israel and that the defence deal signed between India & Israel in 2017 encompassed the sale of the Pegasus spyware.
An excerpt published in the report says, “The Modi visit, however, was notably cordial, complete with a carefully staged moment of him and Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu walking together barefoot on a local beach. They had reason for the warm feelings. Their countries had agreed on the sale of a package of sophisticated weapons and intelligence gear worth roughly $2 billion — with Pegasus and a missile system as the centerpieces.”
It further mentioned that the-then Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu then made a ‘rare state visit to India’ and then voted in support of Israel at the UN ECOSOC to deny observer status to a Palestinian human rights organisation.
While India and Israel are yet to comment on the claims made by NYT, the report has surely ruffled political feathers with the opposition accusing the government of misleading the public, parliament and the Supreme Court. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi this morning accused the Modi government of committing treason and tweeted that it bought Pegasus to spy on primary democratic institutions, politicians and public. He added that government functionaries, opposition leaders, armed forces and judiciary were targeted by these phone tapping and this is treason.