MK Venu’s phone was infected with Pegasus as recently as June 2021, according to an analysis by Amnesty International’s Security Lab.
Who is he?
MK Venu, previously an editor at The Hindu and Hindustan Times, is one of three cofounders of the independent online media The Wire, alongside Siddharth Varadarajan and Sidharth Bhatia. Venu’s phone was infected between February and June of 2021, a time in which he primarily covered India’s Covid vaccination response. Venu had previously been selected as a target in 2018 and 2019, according to the records accessed by Forbidden Stories.
In his columns and political analyses for The Wire, Venu has written critically about some of India’s largest business controversies, including the sale of 36 Rafale fighter jets to India and the 2G spectrum scam.
Since its founding in 2015, The Wire has come under intense legal pressure from companies that some have contended are close to the Narendra Modi-led BJP government, like Anil Ambani’s Reliance Group. In February 2018, Venu was one of two journalists named in a defamation suit by Reliance for his coverage of the Rafale deal.
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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.”