NEW DELHI: Indian opposition leader Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government of trying to hack into senior opposition politicians’ mobile phones, after they reported receiving warning messages from Apple.

Some of the lawmakers shared screenshots on social media of a notification quoting the iPhone manufacturer as saying: “Apple believes you are being targeted by state-sponsored attackers who are trying to remotely compromise the iPhone associated with your Apple ID”.

“Hack us all you want,” Gandhi told a news conference in New Delhi, in reference to Modi. “But we (opposition) will not stop questioning you.”

Information Technology Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw expressed concern at the lawmakers’ statements and said the government had asked Apple to join its investigation into the matter.

The company said it did not attribute the threat notifications to “any specific state-sponsored attacker”.

State-sponsored attacks were evolving over time. Detecting them “relies on threat intelligence signals that are often imperfect and incomplete,” it said. “It’s possible that some Apple threat notifications may be false alarms, or that some attacks are not detected,”

Jairam Ramesh, spokesperson for Gandhi’s Congress party, called Apple’s clarification a “long-winded non-denial” of a security breach.

In 2021, India was rocked by reports that the government had used Israeli-made Pegasus spyware to snoop on scores of journalists, activists and politicians, including Gandhi.

The government has declined to reply to questions whether India or any of its state agencies had purchased Pegasus spyware for surveillance.


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