Bangladesh is one of the countries afflicted by Pegasus Spyware

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Bangladesh is said to be one of 45 nations where the Israeli business NSO Group’s Pegasus malware was used to spy on people.

According to reports from a number of major international news agencies, the spyware has been targeting human rights activists, journalists, politicians, and jurists in 45 nations throughout the world since 2016.

According to the allegations, the spyware may collect data, turn on a smartphone’s microphone and camera without the user’s permission, monitor position, and record keystrokes. It can be installed without tricking a person into starting a download in some instances.

The program was sold to at least ten countries and a large number of clients by NSO Group.

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Following a large leak, seventeen news organizations from ten nations formed the Pegasus Project, an investigative reporting cooperative. Amnesty International advised the investigation, which was coordinated by the Paris-based media non-profit Forbidden Stories.

According to The Guardian, the leak contains a list of more than 50,000 phone numbers that are believed to have been recognized as those of people of interest by NSO clients since 2016.

The report, which was released on Sunday and sent shockwaves around the world, did not directly mention Bangladesh.

However, Citizen Lab, a Canadian cybersecurity organization, has documented potential Pegasus infections in 45 locations, according to the Washington Post’s Q&A: A guide to’spyware.’

The Washington Post cited Bangladesh as one of the countries mentioned, but said, “However, the presence of infected phones does not always suggest a country’s government is a client.”

The media sites indicated in Sunday’s reporting that they would eventually expose the names of NSO Group’s nations and clients.

The Bangladesh administration flatly denied the foreign media’s claim yesterday night.

Mustafa Jabbar, Minister of Post and Telecommunications, told The Daily Star, “It’s an attempt to smear Bangladesh’s reputation…. I’m claiming that neither the telecommunications nor the information and communications technology divisions purchased such spyware. There is no way to buy spyware like this.”

He further claimed that the news outlets failed to identify which organization had purchased the spyware.

“I cannot say anything about this… they [law enforcement agencies] can say this,” the minister responded when asked if law enforcement agency utilized the spyware.

“Bangladesh police does not use it,” said Md Sohel Rana, AIG (media and public relations) of Bangladesh Police.

When contacted, Commander Khandaker Al Moin, director of Rapid Action Battalion’s communications and legal wing, told The Daily Star that Rab does not deploy spyware.

According to AFP, the disclosures on Sunday raise privacy concerns and illustrate the far-reaching extent to which the private firm’s software could be misused, as part of a collaborative investigation by The Washington Post, The Guardian, Le Monde, and other media sites.

Since 2016, NSO clients have identified over 50,000 smartphone numbers as associated to people of interest, according to the leak.

Journalists from Agence France-Presse, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, The New York Times, Al Jazeera, El Pais, the Associated Press, Le Monde, Bloomberg, The Economist, and Reuters are among the names on the list, according to The Guardian.

There were 15,000 numbers in Mexico, including one linked to a dead reporter, and 300 numbers in India, including politicians and notable journalists.

According to the Times of India, Indian National Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, election strategist Prashant Kishor, and Trinamool Congress leader Abhishek Banerjee are among the numerous potential targets of Israeli spyware Pegasus.

The Pegasus list purportedly includes the names of two Indian central government ministers, including information technology minister Ashwini Vaishnaw, who had previously stated in the Lok Sabha that the Pegasus Project report had no validity.

At least two mobile phone accounts used by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi were among 300 verified Indian numbers named as potential targets, according to The Wire, which was part of Pegasus Project.

Last Monday, the Indian government reaffirmed that “allegations about government monitoring on specific people has no factual basis or truth attached with it,” after denying employing the malware to spy on its residents in 2019.

A forensic review of 37 of the smartphones on the list, according to the Washington Post, revealed “attempted and successful” breaches, including those of two women connected to Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was killed by a Saudi hit team in 2018.

NSO has categorically denied any wrongdoing and called the charges “false.”

According to Reuters, a liberal party in Israel’s ruling coalition said yesterday it would question the defense ministry about Israeli spyware exports linked to hacking of journalists’, government employees’, and rights activists’ phones around the world.


The numbers on the list were unattributed, according to the Washington Post, but other media outlets involved in the effort were able to identify more than 1,000 persons in more than 50 nations.

Several members of Arab royal families were among those arrested, as were at least 65 corporate leaders, 85 human rights activists, 189 journalists, and over 600 politicians and government officials, including presidents of state, prime ministers, and cabinet ministers.

Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Hungary, India, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Morocco, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates had the most numbers on the list.

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