In a recent report,The Wire confirmed that phone numbers that have been used by Anil Ambani were added to the leaked list that was analysed by media partners of the Pegasus Project consortium. Apart from Ambani, the other Reliance ADA Group official whose numbers appear on the list include corporate communications chief Tony Jesudasan, as well as Jesudasan’s wife.
While the mere presence of a number on this list does not imply the smartphone connected to it was successfully snooped upon, the consortium has reason to believe that it represents a person of interest for an unknown client of the NSO Group.
According to the report, the phone numbers that have been used by Anil Ambani were added to the list in 2018, when controversy over the Rafale deal had started growing more intense. Jesudasan, considered a trouble-shooter for Reliance ADA in matters of regulatory policy and the media, also appeared on the list in 2018.
The Wire could not confirm if Ambani is still using the number that he was in 2018, which is when it was added to the list. A lack of response from the company also ruled out the ability to ask if they would consent to participating in the Pegasus Project’s digital forensics process, said the report.
While it could not be confirmed that the presence of Ambani and other company officials in the database is solely linked to their defence efforts, namely the Rafale deal, an examination of other key clusters of numbers by The Wire show that the unidentified NSO client also extended to other key parts of the defence industry, particularly aerospace.
The numbers registered to Dassault Aviation’s representative in India, Venkata Rao Posina, former Saab India head Inderjit Sial and Boeing India boss Pratyush Kumar all appear in the leaked database at different periods of time in 2018 and 2019, according to the report.
The Wire reached out to Reliance ADA, giving them an opportunity to deny if the numbers listed belonged to the officials, however, they did not receive any response.
While the NSO Group has disputed this list in several past statements, saying that the list has no link to the Pegasus Spyware, Forensic analysis conducted by Amnesty International’s Security Lab for over 60 phones on this list, which primarily includes numbers clustered in countries that experts say have had an active Pegasus operator in the past, found traces of the spyware on over half of them, while the results of a majority of other cases were inconclusive on account of them being Android devices.