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SC Staffer Who Accused Judge of Sexual Harassment Was Potential Pegasus Target: Report

The Pegasus spyware hardly leaves any trace that would allow it to be detected. (Representational image)

The Pegasus spyware hardly leaves any trace that would allow it to be detected. (Representational image)

The staffer, whose name is being withheld, was dismissed from service in December 2018, weeks after she said she rebuffed the judge's advances.

Three phone numbers belonging to the Supreme Court staffer, who had accused former Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi of sexual harassment in April 2019, were selected as potential targets for surveillance using Pegasus spyware, The Wire reported.

The staffer, whose name is being withheld, was dismissed from service in December 2018, weeks after she said she rebuffed the judge’s advances. She recorded her allegations in a sworn affidavit on April 20, 2019 and was marked as a person of interest just days after this, an analysis of a leaked list of phone numbers accessed by French media non-profit Forbidden Stories revealed.

The leaked records show that eight other phone numbers belonging to her husband and two of his brothers were also marked as possible candidates for surveillance in the same week, when her allegations against the CJI were first reported, The Wire said.

All told, a total of 11 numbers associated with the complainant and her family were selected, making them among the largest cluster of associated phone numbers in the India-leg of the Pegasus Project, a special investigation coordinated by Forbidden Stories and 16 international media partners with the assistance of Amnesty International’s technical team.

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The Wire said her presence in the list, and the timing of her selection, suggest that the reason she and her family became persons of interest is because she went public with serious allegations against the sitting Chief Justice of India.

The government, however, dismissed allegations of any kind of surveillance on its part on specific people, saying the report “has no concrete basis or truth associated with it whatsoever”.

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first published:July 19, 2021, 21:05 IST