Pegasus scandal – More names emerge
Bringing more and more headaches to Narendra Modi Government, the Pegasus leaks are not ending. On the fifth day of its series, The Wire said that during the CBI officers war in 2018, numbers of then-Director Alok Verma, his family, and his rival Special Director Rakesh Asthana, Additional Director A K Sharma, Industrialist Anil Ambani, and his well-known lobbyist Tony Jesudasan and his wife and Dassault Rafale’s representative in India Venkata Rao Posina were also found in the Pegasus surveillance list. Anil Ambani’s companies other officers were also on the tapped list. Earlier on the day on Thursday The Wire portal reported that Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, and staff members of other Buddhist clerics were selected as targets of potential surveillance by a client of the Israeli spyware firm NSO Group over two years, a leaked database of phone numbers reveals.
The staff of the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa, Urgyen Trinley Dorji, the third highest-ranking monk in Tibetan Buddhism, who had been living outside India since early 2017 was also in the targeted list of snooping. The report said that Tibetan officials were targeted from late 2017.
The numbers of Asthana, Sharma, Verma, and his family members figure in the leaked database for a short period.
“But unknown to him (Alok Verma) at the time, the blow the Modi government delivered that night was accompanied by a second sucker punch: someone with the keys to India’s hush-hush spyware deployment system received authorization to add Verma’s numbers to an extensive list of persons of interest that included at least 10 individuals whose phones bear the tell-tale footprints of Pegasus, The Wire has established.
“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,” said The Wire report.
The numbers of Asthana, Sharma, Verma, and his family members figure in the leaked database for a short period. Interestingly A K Sharma was Modi’s Intelligence Chief during his tenure as Gujarat Chief Minister. During the Mansi Soni snooping allegation time, it was well known that Sharma was tasked to track her Bangalore trip. Many media reported the taped conversation between then Gujarat Home Minister Amit Shah and then State Intelligence Chief A K Sharma about the whereabouts of architect Mansi Soni, who is now settled in the USA from 2014. Her brothers are now running a very successful consultancy firm titled Ecolibrium in Gujarat.
“Jesudasan considered a trouble-shooter for Ambani’s empire in matters of regulatory policy and the media, appeared on the list in 2018. From mid-2018, there were several tense periods for the company: this includes the Hollande controversy and tense apex court hearings. The number for Jesudasan shortly stopped appearing in the records after the Supreme Court gave its verdict. For instance, the number for Dassault Aviation’s representative in India, Venkata Rao Posina, former Saab India head Inderjit Sial and Boeing India boss Pratyush Kumar all appear in the leaked database at different periods of time in 2018 and 2019, said the report.
The Dalai Lama’s long-term envoy in New Delhi, Tempa Tsering, who is currently the director, India, and East Asia, Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in New Delhi, appears on the list. The report said that during that period, Dalai Lama had met with former US President Barack Obama in Delhi during the latter’s foreign tour. While the two had met previously, that was their first meeting after Obama left office in January 2017.
 ‘Chronology Samajhiye’: Hours After Midnight Coup, CBI Chief Alok Verma Entered Surveillance Zone – Jul 23, 2021, The Wire
 Snoopgate: What links the Soni family and Gujarat govt – Nov 21, 2013, Business Standard
 On the List: Anil Ambani, Dassault’s Rep and the India Head of French Energy Firm EDF – Jul 23, 2021, The Wire
 Dalai Lama’s Closest Advisors, Tibetan Officials Were Potential Targets of an NSO Group Client – Jul 23, 2021, The Wire
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