A city-based civil rights advocate has been targeted by the Pegasus spyware, which infected about 1,400 civil rights activists, lawyers and journalists across
Balla Ravindranath said he started receiving messages from an unknown international number to his Whatsapp claiming to be from a Canada-based Citizen Labs since October 7, saying they were conducting a survey on the hacking, which the lawyer ignored.
"I thought they (the messages)might be spam or fraud. Subsequently, there were some WhatsApp calls also from the same number. I ignored them too.
On October 29, I received an official message from Whatsapp saying that my phone may be compromised. I ignored that also.
Later when the company filed the lawsuit (against NSO group), I realized that my phone was hacked," Ravindarnath told PTI.
On October 31, Facebook-owned WhatsApp had said Indian journalists and human rights activists were among those globally spied upon by unnamed entities using an Israeli spyware Pegasus.
WhatsApp had said it was suing NSO Group, an Israeli surveillance firm, that is reportedly behind the technology that helped unnamed entities' spies hack into phones of roughly 1,400 users spanning across four continents and included diplomats, political dissidents, journalists, and senior government officials.
However, the company didn't disclose the details or the number of people affected in India. WhatsApp had on Tuesday filed a lawsuit in a US federal
court against NSO Group. Ravindranath is the general secretary of the committee for the release of political prisoners (CRPP), which was described
as a "frontal organization" of banned CPI (Maoist) by the Bhadradri Kothagudem Police.
The police also alleged that Ravindranath, among others has been working for Maoists in urban areas to propagate the ideology. However, the allegation was rejected by the lawyer. He said as an organization they were working for the release of "political prisoners" including Maoists.