After stating that they never claimed that the activists, journalists, politicians were spied on through NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware by governments of various countries, Amnesty International has taken another stunning U-turn.
The organisation has released a new statement on its website which says: "Amnesty International categorically stands by the findings of the Pegasus Project, and that the data is irrefutably linked to potential targets of NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware. The false rumours being pushed on social media are intended to distract from the widespread unlawful targeting of journalists, activists and others that the Pegasus Project has revealed."
Earlier in the day, Amnesty had blamed the media for portraying its original report wrongly. It clarified they never said that the leaked list of numbers had any connections to the NSO Group’s Pegasus project. The agency proclaimed that the list that was published in many media outlets is merely a list that they think would be the NSO’s potential interests.
A few days ago, Amnesty, in its original statement, had claimed that the Israeli firm – the NSO Group - of provided a spyware 'Pegasus' to many governments across the globe to spy on activists, politicians and journalists.
The leaked list of of 50,000 phone numbers belonging to individuals from different walks of life triggered a media storm which dubbed it as 'snooping' scandal.
Amnesty says it never claimed list was NSO: "Amnesty International has never presented this list as a 'NSO Pegasus Spyware List', although some of the world's media may have done so..list indicative of the interests of the company's clients" https://t.co/51U72HI9yF
— Kim Zetter (@KimZetter) July 21, 2021
“Amnesty International has never presented this list as ‘NSO’s Pegasus Spyware List’, although some of the world’s media may have done so,” the organisation had said, denying its original statement.
“Amnesty and the investigative journalists and media outlets they work with have made clear from the outset in very clear language that this is a list of numbers marked as numbers of interest to NSO customers, who are different regimes in the world. This is a list indicative of the interests of the company’s clients, who have expressed interest in monitoring journalists and human rights activists, political rivals, lawyers and so on, not only other suspects of paedophilia, other serious crime and terrorism,” it added.
If the list of 50,000 phone numbers is not directly linked to NSO then serious questions emerge over the legitimacy of the spygate reports published by the consortium of leftist newsgroups. Amnesty needs to clarify.
— Rahul Shivshankar (@RShivshankar) July 22, 2021
Laughable 'snooping' story was spun around an 'indicative' list manufactured by Amnesty Int.
"Amnesty has never presented this list as NSO's Pegasus Spyware List...Amnesty makes clear this is a list *indicative* of the interests of (Pegasus) clients." 1n
See @KimZetter thread: https://t.co/drQwQKMO4U pic.twitter.com/u8KvdESDsP
— Kanchan Gupta 🇮🇳 (@KanchanGupta) July 22, 2021
Now, Amnesty International said:
1. They never claimed that list of phone numbers of activists, journalists, politicians included people who were spied on through NSO's Pegasus spyware. But some media may have done so
2. List includes people "NSO's clients might like to spy on"
— Anshul Saxena (@AskAnshul) July 22, 2021
The NSO Group, which owns spyware Pegasus, has already clarified that the purported list did not belong to them in any manner. “It is not an NSO list, and it never was – it is fabricated information. It is not a list of targets or potential targets of NSO’s customers,” a spokesperson for the NSO Group had said.
The company also stated that it does not have access to the data of its customers and "are obligated to provide us with such information under investigation". "If and when NSO receives credible proof of misuse of its technologies, it will conduct a thorough investigation, as it always had and always will," the spokesperson said.
These constant U-turns by Amnesty, in a span of few days, cast a shadow over the veracity of the claim of spying. With Amnesty harking back to its original statements and Indian government's vehemently denial, it's hard to ascertain the truth in the absence of unimpeachable, concrete evidence.