French daily Le Monde reported Thursday that the fact that the Dalai Lama does not use a mobile phone has led India to spy, through the Pegasus spyware, about two dozen advisers to the Tibetan leader.
In all, about 20 Tibetan officials in exile, both political and religious, may have been spied on, including several personal advisers to the Tibetan spiritual leader, says the French newspaper, a member of the International Media Consortium that launched the Pegasus spy scandal.
The first requests came from the Indian authorities at the end of 2017, during a meeting in New Delhi between the Dalai Lama and the former President of the United States, Barack Obama, who was returning from a visit to China. Other requests to include mobile numbers came later, in mid-2018, such as that of Lobsang Sanjay, the Tibetan government-in-exile.
Le Monde contextualizes requests to include Pegasus cell phone numbers with the occasional tensions between India and China, two nuclear powers with territorial disputes on the Himalayan frontier, and New Delhi’s fear that the 86-year-old Dalai Lama might sign an agreement with Beijing.
However, the French daily also, without the ability to analyze phone stations, cannot verify with certainty whether it was actually spied on by Pegasus, a program of the Israeli technology company NSO Group.
About 50,000 phone numbers were sent by various customers for possible tracking in ten countries, including Mexico, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, India, Hungary and Kazakhstan.
Conceived as a tool to combat terrorism and organized crime, the investigation by the International Media Consortium showed that Pegasus has also been used by many countries to spy on political opponents, human rights activists, journalists and lawyers. Once inside the phone, the program can access the entire contents of the device, such as instant messages, emails, photos or contact book.
What the consortium revealed showed that the mobile phone numbers of French President Emmanuel Macron, his former Prime Minister Edouard Philippe and 14 members of the former government were targets of possible spying by a Moroccan security agency, which is rejected by the Rabat authorities.
The investigation published Sunday is based on a list obtained by Forbidden Stories and Amnesty International, of 50,000 phone numbers selected by NSO clients since 2016 for potential surveillance.
Today, citing the Washington Post, Amnesty International reported that the phones of 14 heads of state and government and hundreds of government officials may have been spied on by the Pegasus program.
According to a statement by Amnesty International, The Washington Post, which is also part of the union of journalists investigating the case, revealed that the phone numbers of 14 heads of state and government have been listed as persons of interest by clients of the company NSO Group.
This list includes King Mohammed VI of Morocco, French President Emmanuel Macron, Iraqi President Barham Salih, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly.
Also among the participants are Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, Moroccan Prime Minister Saad Eddine Othmani, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, Ugandan Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda and Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel.
The list included the phone numbers of more than 600 government officials and politicians from 34 countries.
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