Pegasus Revelation: The Wire gets Delhi police visit with strange questionstext_fields
New Delhi: Days after digital news publication The Wire revealed the list of victims of Pegasus spyware, Delhi police paid a visit to the media office.
Founding editor of The Wire, Siddharth Varadarajan tweeted that the police asked strange questions. "Who is Vinod Dua? Who is Swara Bhaskar? Can I see your rental agreement? Can I speak to Arfa?" such were the questions asked by the police. He added that the police officer who visited the office, Ct Mahesh, was mumbling something about a Kanpur case.
The DCP of New Delhi tweeted a photo and claimed that the visit was part of a routine tenant verification of "security and anti-terrorism measures" in the run-up to Independence Day, August 15. Checking guest houses that are rented throughout Delhi was claimed to be part of it. The DCP said that the police had gone to verify an office that did not have a signboard at the entrance, reported The News Minute.
Editor Varadarajan said that the photo shared by the police is from the other side of the building which is kept locked, and added that the Mandir Marg Police Station knew The Wire's office.
Varadarajan told The News Minute that he was not in the office when the police visited. But he got to know from his colleagues that the visit lasted about 20 minutes. The policeman asked the staff if they can give it in writing that Vinod Dua, Arif Khan, and Swara Bhasker don't work for The Wire. The staff refused. Varadarajan raised the question: what does all this have to do with a routine verification.
Journalist Vinod Dua was charged with sedition last year for certain allegations against PM Modi. The Supreme Court dismissed the case last month and said that the offence of sedition should not be invoked for criticising the government. Bollywood actress Swara Bhaskar is also known for criticising the government and being vocal about social issues.
Editor Varadarajan said that the police are foolish to think that something like this will intimidate The Wire. "We just found it really strange," he added.
The Wire is one of the 16 international media organisations that revealed a list of people believed to be targeted by the Pegasus spyware. The Modi government is being accused of purchasing Israeli spyware to tap phones of Indian citizens including opposition leaders, journalists, businessmen, and human rights activists.