An Israeli company’s spyware was used by India to hack a phone which was once in use of Prime Minister Imran Khan, Haaretz reported on Monday, igniting fears of widespread privacy and rights abuses. Several Pakistani officials, Kashmiri freedom fighters, Indian Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, and even an Indian Supreme Court judge were targetted, the publication said. The extent of the spyware – Pegasus – use was reported by The Washington Post, the Guardian, Le Monde and other news outlets who collaborated on an investigation into a data leak. According to The Post, more than 1,000 phone numbers in India appeared on the surveillance list while hundreds were from Pakistan, including the one PM Imran once used. However, The Post did not specify whether the surveillance attempt on PM Imran’s number was successful. The Indian government denied in 2019 that it had used the malware to spy on its citizens after WhatsApp filed a lawsuit in the United States against NSO, the Israeli company producing the spyware, accusing it of using the messaging platform to conduct cyber espionage. Israel’s NSO Group and its Pegasus malware have been in the headlines since at least 2016, when researchers accused it of helping spy on a dissident in the United Arab Emirates. Sunday’s revelations raise privacy and rights concerns, and reveal the far-reaching extent to which the private Israeli company’s software may be being misused by its clients internationally. The leak was of a list of more than 50,000 smartphone numbers believed to have been identified as people of interest by clients of NSO since 2016, the media outlets said. One of the organisations, The Washington Post, said the Pegasus spyware licensed by the NSO Group was also used to target phones belonging to two women close to Jamal Khashoggi, a Post columnist murdered at a Saudi consulate in Turkey in 2018, before and after his death. The Post said 15,000 of the numbers on the list were in Mexico and included those of politicians, union representatives, journalists and government critics. The list reportedly included the number of a Mexican freelance journalist who was murdered at a carwash. His phone was never found, and it was not clear if it had been hacked. The Guardian, another of the media outlets, said the investigation suggested “widespread and continuing abuse” of NSO’s hacking software, described as malware that infects smartphones to enable the extraction of messages, photos and emails; record calls; and secretly activates microphones. Among the numbers on the list are those of journalists for Agence France-Presse, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, The New York Times, Al Jazeera, France 24, Radio Free Europe, Mediapart, El Pais, the Associated Press (AP), Le Monde, Bloomberg, The Economist, Reuters and Voice of America, the Guardian said. Reacting to the revelations, Federal Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari said “part two” of the report on how the Indian government had spied on its own ministers was expected soon.