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I Was Targeted by NSO. Israel Is Helping Modi Undermine India's Democracy I Was Targeted by NSO Spyware. Here's How Israel Is Helping Modi Undermine India's Democracy

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27.07.2021

India loves to describe herself as the world’s largest democracy, and Israel as the only democracy in the Middle East. Yet opaque officials and executives in both countries have come together in a dark dance against democracy.

Indian journalists, top political leaders, judges and civil servants sworn to protect our constitution were subjected to an intrusive surveillance campaign, a "hijacking" of our phones, by military grade surveillance spyware sold by the Israeli company NSO.

I am an investigative journalist, and for two years, I was one of the targets of that invasive Pegasus spyware. In other words, for two years, aided by Israeli technology, my own government was snooping on me.

The spyware called Pegasus is marketed for use against terrorists and drug lords. It is so powerful and intrusive that it is sold only to governments, according to NSO, and every sale requires a sign off from the government of Israel itself. And according to Forbidden Stories, the not-for-profit media organization that, in partnership with a consortium of global publications, broke the story about the reach and misuse of the spyware, once the spyware was deployed our phones were, in effect, weaponized against us.

So why did the Modi government decide to treat me like the head of a crime syndicate, or a bloodthirsty terrorist?

Since Narendra Modi came to power in 2014 he, like many strongman leaders around the world, has treated the free press with disdain bordering on contempt. During the seven years Modi has been in power (he’s now in his second term) he has never once held a press conference. This is a first in the history of India's democracy: all prime ministers before him made themselves available for scrutiny by the free press.

In many ways, Modi was a trendsetter in using social media, bypassing traditional media, to reach out to voters and control the political narrative, first as the state of Gujarat’s Chief Minister and later as candidate for the premiership. Yet the same........

© Haaretz


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