Jaspal Heran was selected for surveillance with the Pegasus spyware in 2019. Forbidden Stories, in partnership with Amnesty International’s Security Lab, was able to run a forensics test on Heran’s Android phone, however no traces of infection were found.
Who is he?
Jaspal Heran is the editor-in-chief of Pehredar, an online newspaper in Punjab. Pehredar publishes a daily newspaper in Punjab, a poor and rural state in northern India, and has a staff of 10 journalists across the region.
Heran was selected as a target several weeks after his newspaper reported on a campaign to liberate three Sikh students who were arrested and given life sentences for “possessing incriminating literature” and “waging war against the state.” Sikh and other journalists have received threats for reporting on the 2020 farmers protests, including charges of sedition.
Daily Pehredar e-paperRead
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.”