The Editors Guild of India expressed shock over the media reports on the widespread surveillance, allegedly mounted by government agencies, on journalists, civil society activists, businessmen and politicians using the Pegasus spyware.
The EGI, in an official statement, said that, since the Israeli Company NSO, which has created and developed Pegasus, claimed that they only sell the software to government clients vetted by the Government of Israel, it deepens suspicion of involvement of Indian Government agencies in snooping its own citizens.
The EGI further condemned the surveillance on journalists, saying this is a brazen and unconstitutional attack on freedom of speech and press.
“While some of the instances of surveillance might have been targeted against those who may be seen as credible national security threats, what is disturbing is that a large number of such targets were journalists and civil society activists. This is a brazen and unconstitutional attack on freedom of speech and press,” the statement read.
The EGI further added that this act of snooping essentially conveys that journalism and political dissent are now equated with ‘terror’.
“How can a constitutional democracy survive if governments do not make an effort to protect freedom of speech and allow surveillance with such impunity,” it said.
“This is a moment that demands deep introspection and inquiry into the kind of society we are heading towards, and how far we may have veered away from the democratic values enshrined in our constitution,” the statement read.
The Guild demanded an independent probe into the matter with an inquiry committee including journalists and civil society activists to ensure independent investigation.
“The Guild demands an urgent and independent inquiry into these snooping charges, under the aegis of the Supreme Court of India. We also demand that this inquiry committee should include people of impeccable credibility from different walks of life–including journalists and civil society–so that it can independently investigate facts around the extent and intent of snooping using the services of Pegasus,” the statement added