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"Priyanka Gandhi's phone was hacked"

By Vishal S

New Delhi, Nov 03: Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi was one of the 121 Indians who was the target of Israeli spyware Pegasus that broke into phones through WhatsApp. The Congress alleged that party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra was among those targeted in a phone hack aimed at snooping on users.

At a press conference, Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said that Gandhi had received a message from the Facebook-owned messaging platform informing her that her phone could also have been targeted with the snooping software at the same time that other users in India were notified.

Priyanka Gandhi

"I want to tell that Priyanka Gandhi also received a similar message from WhatsApp around the same time," Surjewala said.

Surjewala was responding to a question about NCP leader Praful Patel and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee receiving messages from the Facebook-owned messaging platform about the security breach.

This comes after WhatsApp revealed last week that Indian journalists and human rights activists were among roughly 1,400 users globally spied upon by unnamed entities using Israeli spyware, Pegasus. The messaging platform had said it sent special messages to all the affected users stating that it had "reason to believe they were impacted by this attack to directly inform them about what happened".

Over the past few days, several social activists in India have come forward and said they had received communication from WhatsApp in this regard.

[Pegasus Spyware row: WhatsApp says it notified India in May][Pegasus Spyware row: WhatsApp says it notified India in May]

Priyanka Gandhi received the message around the same time when WhatsApp was sending similar messages to those whose phones were allegedly hacked, Surjewala said.

"WhatsApp sent messages to different people whose phones were hacked. One such message was also received from WhatsApp on the telephone (mobile phone) of Priyanka Gandhi," he said.

"WhatsApp did not say that the phone was hacked in this fashion by an illegal Pegasus software," he said, adding that the nature of the message is already in the public domain.

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