In view of the various reports doing rounds regarding the Pegasus spyware programme reportedly targetting Indian journalists and other ministers, the maker of the spyware programme said that the alleged surveillance by the government was not theirs.
The NSO Group, an Israeli technology firm that developed the Pegasus spyware programme, told NDTV that the company is "not related to the list published by Forbidden Stories (the Paris-based non-profit group that worked with Amnesty International to obtain the database of 50,000 phone numbers that triggered this controversy)".
"It is not an NSO list, and it never was - it is fabricated information. It is not a list of targets or potential targets of NSO's customers," the spokesperson said, NDTV reported.
He further added, "repeated reliance on this list and association of people on this list as potential surveillance targets is false and misleading."
"The company does not have access to the data of its customers," the spokesperson said.
He, however, mentioned that if there are credible proofs of misuse of the software, a thorough investigation will be carried out.
On Monday, a report by The Wire said that over 300 Indian phone numbers, including that of Rahul Gandhi and other senior journalists, were hacked, potentially.
After the report hit the shelves, the Indian government issued a statement categorically denying using Pegasus.
"The story being crafted is one that is not only bereft of facts but also founded in pre-conceived conclusions. It seems you are trying to play the role of an investigator, prosecutor as well as jury. Considering the fact that answers to the queries posed have already been in public domain for a long time, it also indicates poorly conducted research and lack of due diligence by the esteemed media organisations involved," the statement said.
"Government of India's response to a Right to Information application about the use of Pegasus has been prominently reported by media and is in itself sufficient to counter any malicious claims about the alleged association between the Government of India and Pegasus," the statement added.
According to the explosive report, several of these phone numbers were added to the list between 2017 and 2019.
Pegasus spyware is one of the most sophisticated pieces of equipment in the world. The hacking is so smooth that phone users have no clue that their devices have been compromised.
Most spyware apps, of the standard of Pegasus, are extremely expensive. The cost is in millions of dollars, which can only be paid by big organisations or governments.