Smita Sharma was targeted with Pegasus in June and July of 2018. Forbidden Stories, in partnership with Amnesty International’s Security Lab, was not able to confirm a successful infection of her phone. However, malicious iMessage look-ups in her phone in June and July of 2018 indicate an attempted targeting.
Who is she?
An independent journalist and TV host, Smita Sharma has been in journalism for nearly 20 years, mostly as a TV reporter with mainstream Indian media outlets such as TV9 and ETV covering diplomacy and foreign affairs. She has written about similar topics for a number of national and international outlets, including Tribune, The Quint, Huffington Post and Yahoo News. Sharma joined Tribune as a print reporter focused on foreign policy in 2017, where she stayed until 2019.
In the summer of 2018, around the time of her attempted targeting, she began to cover the secession plans of the Karmapa, a Tibetan spiritual leader. She published a number of exclusive pieces about the Karmapa that Fall and was in touch with both Indian and Chinese officials during that time, she said. During that summer, she also spoke with the Afghan ambassador to India, Shaida Adbali, in an exclusive interview for Tribune in the aftermath of a terrorist attack in Jalalabad that killed 17 Sikhs.
“When it comes to foreign or defence policy and national security related issues more often than not official and unofficial sources and people within and outside the government speak to us on conditions of anonymity,” she said. “That trust needs to be respected. These hacking attempts, though in this case supposedly failed ones, could compromise such sources.”
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"As China woos Karmapa, India changes strategy" Tribune (2018)Read
"Kashmir: ‘Private Visit’ of European MPs Was NSA Doval’s Brainchild, Sources Say" The Huffington Post (2019)Read
"India-Nepal Spar Over Border Dispute" YouTube (2020)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.”