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Naresh Goyal, Ajay Singh, Prashant Ruia among potential Pegasus spyware targets: Report

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The potential targets of Israeli spyware Pegasus included former chairman of Jet Airways Naresh Goyal, SpiceJet managing director Ajay Singh and the Essar Group’s Prashant Ruia, according to the latest list of names released by The Wire. The leaked list that has been analysed by media partners of the Pegasus Project consortium reporting on the issue also includes numbers belonging to Rajeshwar Singh, a senior Enforcement Directorate officer, and V K Jain, a former Indian Administrative Service officer who worked as a personal assistant to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.

In addition, the leaked records contain details of the numbers of at least one official each from the PMO and NITI Aayog, The Wire said.

Last week, an international media consortium reported that over 300 verified mobile phone numbers, including those of two ministers, over 40 journalists, three opposition leaders besides scores of business persons and activists in India, could have been targeted for hacking through the Pegasus spyware of the NSO Group.

The government has been denying all Opposition allegations in the matter.

Apart from Goyal, Ajay Singh and Ruia, ex-chief at GAIL India B C Tripathi was also on the list of potential surveillance targets, The Wire reported.

The list also includes Vikram Kothari of Rotomac Pens, his son Rahul, and C Sivasankaran, former Aircel promoter, the report said.

There are at least three business executives, working in big corporate houses, who are also on the list, it said.

The potential surveillance targets include a mid-level official at the Adani Group, one individual who used to work with the Essar Group and another formerly with SpiceJet, The Wire said.

V Balasubramanian, long-time associated with Reliance Industries, and A N Sethuraman of Reliance ADA Group, are on the list of potential spying targets, it said.

Two numbers, one for a former boss of Life Insurance Corporation of India and the other for a former executive director of the

Fertiliser Corporation also appear on the list, The Wire said.

The leaked list also contains at least five corporate executives associated with India’s mutual fund industry, including professionals from companies such as Franklin Templeton, DSP BlackRock and Motilal Oswal.

The report said that the leaked database analysed by the Pegasus Project contains several hundred numbers from India – believed to be persons of interest to an unknown government client of the NSO Group that is focused on India – and includes some whose associated smartphones were found to have had traces of the Israeli spyware as per a forensic analysis conducted by Amnesty International’s Security Lab.

NSO Group, which sells Pegasus to select governments, says the company and its clients are not connected to the database in any way.

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