Iftikhar Gilani was selected for surveillance with the Pegasus spyware between 2017 and 2019. He has since moved to Turkey, and no longer uses his former phone.
Who is he?
Iftikhar Gilani is a journalist who currently works at the Anadolu Agency, a wire-service based in Ankara. As a Kashmiri journalist, Gilani has faced severe pressure from the Indian government.
In 2002, he was arrested under the Official Secrets Act and imprisoned for eight months on charges of military spying on behalf of Pakistan after police found documents about human rights abuses by the Indian government in Kashmir on his laptop. Reporters Sans Frontiers wrote that the document that he had downloaded was “available to any Internet user” and that once in prison Gilani was beaten by other prisoners and refused access to the prison library. After his release, he published a book, “My Days in Prison” about his experience in Tihar jail.
Gilani has worked for a number of publications, including Tehelka, Rising Kashmir and DNA India, where he served as chief of the national bureau in Delhi. He was a close friend of journalist Shuujat Bukhari, who was shot dead in the city of Srinagar as he left the offices of Rising Kashmir, the newspaper where he served as editor in chief, in June 2018. The two friends had spoken on the phone 20 minutes before Bukhari was shot dead.
Gilani himself was forced to leave India in September 2019 after receiving a tip-off from police that he and two other journalists had appeared on a hit list for their coverage of politics in Jammu and Kashmir and is currently based in Turkey.
"Shuujat Bukhari: A Profile in Courage" DNA India (2018)Read
"How Imran Khan Got Me into Trouble" DNA India (2018)Read
"Losing the Plot in Kashmir" DNA India (2019)Read
The Indian government has never confirmed or denied being a client of NSO Group. “The allegations regarding government surveillance on specific people has no concrete basis or truth associated with it whatsoever,” a spokesperson for the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology wrote in response to detailed questions sent by Forbidden Stories and its partners. NSO Group did not answer Forbidden Stories’ questions on specific targets but said it “will continue to investigate all credible claims of misuse and take appropriate action based on the results of these investigations.”