Siddharth Varadarajan’s phone was targeted with Pegasus spyware in April 2018. Forbidden Stories and Amnesty International’s Security Lab’s forensic analysis of his cell phone revealed traces of malicious processes similar to those seen in other known Pegasus targets, indicating that it was successfully infected.
Who is he?
Siddharth Varadarajan is an Indian investigative journalist. Alongside MK Venu and Sidharth Bhatia, Varadarajan, who was formerly an editor at The Hindu, founded The Wire in 2015. In the short time since, journalists from The Wire have gone on to win prestigious awards for their investigative reporting and independent coverage of Indian politics, including three Ramnath Goenka Awards and a CPJ International Press Freedom Award. Varadarajan himself was winner of the 2017 Shorenstein Award for defending press freedom.
Varadarajan and other journalists from The Wire have broken stories on a number of political scandals in India, including the 2G Spectrum scam and the controversial sale of Rafale fighter jets to India. On April 24, 2018, The Wire staff published an investigation into a coal import scam involving several multinational companies believed to have close ties to the Indian government.
As a journalist in India, Varadarajan has been named in multiple defamation cases. In 2020 during the height of the first Covid wave in India, Varadarajan was summonsed to appear in court by the Uttar Pradesh police in connection with his reporting on a religious ceremony that took place despite the lockdown.
Varadarajan is one of at least five journalists from The Wire who were selected as targets of an NSO client in India, along with cofounder MK Venu, editor Devirupa Mitra, investigative journalist Rohini Singh, and columnist Prem Shankar Jha.
"Delhi HC Puts CBI in a Spot over Probe into Rs 30,000 Cr Coal Import Over-Invoicing" The Wire (2018)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.”