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Israeli surveillance spyware Pegasus used in Pakistan audio leak scandal involving PM and Maryam

Lahore: Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, his close aides and the ruling party leader Maryam Nawaz have been hacked using Israeli surveillance spyware Pegasus, IT expert Umar Saif suggested on Tuesday.

Without sharing much details, Saif took to Twitter and wrote, “Pegasus software by the NSO group…That’s the tweet.”

His tweet was an obvious reference to a string of explosive audio leaks targeting the prime minister, his family and the cabinet members.

An audio recording of an alleged conversation, purportedly between Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and a government official, was leaked on social media on Saturday, with former prime minister Imran Khan’s party, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), leaders claiming that it shows the PM putting his family’s business interests before those of the state.

It later appeared that unknown hackers had multiple audios secretly recorded at the Prime Minister House. The hackers had threatened to release the remaining audios within a few days.

Pegasus has been used by governments to spy on journalists, activists, and dissidents and the Israeli firm behind it, NSO Group, has been sued by Apple and placed on a U.S. trade blacklist.

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