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'Unconstitutional Attack On Freedom Of Speech & Press' : Editors Guild Seeks Supreme Court-Monitored Probe Into Pegasus Snooping Allegations

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
21 July 2021 3:06 PM GMT
Unconstitutional Attack On Freedom Of Speech & Press : Editors Guild Seeks Supreme Court-Monitored Probe Into Pegasus Snooping Allegations
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"How can a constitutional democracy survive if governments do not make an effort to protect freedom of speech and allows surveillance with such impunity?", the Guild asked.

Expressing shock at the reports of wide spread surveillance allegedly mounted by government agencies, on journalists, civil society activists, businessmen and politicians, using the Isreali spyware Pegasus, the Editors Guild of India has demanded a probe monitored by the Supreme Court of India into the issue."The Guild demands an urgent and independent inquiry into these snooping charges,...

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Expressing shock at the reports of wide spread surveillance allegedly mounted by government agencies, on journalists, civil society activists, businessmen and politicians, using the Isreali spyware Pegasus, the Editors Guild of India has demanded a probe monitored by the Supreme Court of India into the issue.

"The Guild demands an urgent and independent inquiry into these snooping charges, under the aegis of Supreme Court of India", a press statement issued by it stated.

It further demanded that the inquiry committee should include people of impeccable credibility from different walks of life- including journalists and civil society- so that it can independently investigate the facts around the extent and intent of snooping using the services of Pegasus.

The Guild said the the act of snooping using the spyware  is "a brazen and unconstitutional attack on freedom of speech and press".

"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 allows surveillance with such impunity?", the Guild said.

According to a report of The Wire, the woman staffer who raised the sexual harassment allegations against the former Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and some of her family members were listed as the potential targets of Pegasus snooping. 40 Indian journalists, political leaders like Rahul Gandhi, election strategist Prashant Kishore etc are reported to be in the list of targets, as per The Wire.

Full statement of Editors Guild of India :

The Editors Guild of India is shocked by the media reports on the wide spread surveillance, allegedly mounted by government agencies, on journalists, civil society activists, businessmen and politicians, using a hacking software known as Pegasus, created and developed by the Israeli company NSO. The reports, which have been published worldwide over the last few days by a consortium of 17 publications, points towards surveillance by multiple governments across the world. Since NSO claims that it only sells this software to governments clients vetted by the Government of Israel, it deepens suspicion of involvement of Indian government agencies in snooping on it's own citizens.

While some of the instances of surveillance might have been targeted against those who may be seen as credible national security threat, what is disturbing is that a large of such targets were journalists and civil society activists. This is a brazen and unconstitutional attack on freedom of speech and press. 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 allows surveillance with such impunity?

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 Guild demands an urgent and independent inquiry into these snooping charges, under the aegis of 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 the facts around the extent and intent of snooping using the services of Pegasus.



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