Dalai Lama’s close aides were potential Pegasus spyware targets: Report | India News – Times of India

NEW DELHI: The phone numbers belonging to the close aides of Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama were selected as those of ‘people of interest’ by the government clients of Israeli surveillance company NSO Group, reported The Guardian.
The numbers of Lobsang Sangay, the president of the Tibetan government-in-exile, and several other activists and clerics who are part of the exiled community in India were also part of the data leaked under the Pegasus Project.
The Guardian report said that analysis points to Indian government’s role in selecting the potential targets.
The Pegasus spyware, developed by Israeli cyber firm NSO, allows clients to tap phones and extract call, messages and location of the targets.
The report said that the Tibetans whose names have emerged in the investigation did not make their phones available to confirm whether any hacking was attempted or successful.
However, it added that technical analysis of 10 other phones on the suspected Indian client list found traces of Pegasus or signs of targeting related to the spyware.
The report said the possible “scrutiny” of Tibetan spiritual and government leaders points to a growing awareness in India about the strategic importance of Tibet.
Tibet’s relationship with China has grown tense over the past few years, with Beijing often calling out New Delhi for granting asylum to Dalai Lama.
The records suggest that Tibetan leaders were first selected for possible surveillance in late 2017, according to the report.
This was in the period before and after the former US president Barack Obama met the Dalai Lama privately on a foreign tour that also included earlier stops in China.
The Dalai Lama, who has spent the past 18 months isolating in his compound in Dharamsala, is not known to carry a personal phone, the Guardian report said citing two sources.
Last week, a global investigation published by 17 media organisations claimed that Israeli spyware developed by NSO was used to target the phones of politicians, journalists, government officials and human rights activists. The consortium was led by the Paris-based journalism nonprofit Forbidden Stories and Amnesty International.

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