A Chennai-based advocate, M Srinivasan, has sent a legal notice to the New York Times (NYT) over its investigative report dated January 28, 2022, which stated that India had purchased spyware tool Pegasus as part of a $2 billion arms deal with Israel in 2017. The advocate, who is practising at the Madras High Court, said in the legal notice sent via email on January 31 that the NYT should respond with an apology within one week or face legal consequences worth Rs 100 crore.
In the notice, the advocate said that the article has damaged the country's reputation and that it was not corroborative or authenticated by the Isreali NSO group, adding that the investigative article is ‘mischievous' and ‘malicious'. Srinivasan said the article has mentioned Israel using the Pegasus software for diplomatic leverage, and that India's pro-Israel vote in the United Nations was linked to the purchase of the software, which he called “totally wrong”.
Srinivasan said in the notice that the then permanent representative of India in the United Nations, Syed Akbaruddin, had completely denied the allegations, which proves that the article was intended to damage the reputation of India. "I have already sent a legal notice through e-mail and am expecting a response within one week. If they do not respond within the stipulated time, I will proceed legally against this mischievous and malicious article against India as a nation," Srinivasan told IANS.
According to the contentious New York Times report, the Israeli spyware Pegasus and a missile system were the ‘centerpieces’ of a roughly two-billion US dollars worth deal of sophisticated weapons and intelligence gear between India and Israel in 2017. The opposition in India had slammed the Union government, calling its alleged purchase of the spyware “treason”. The parties demanded the government's explanation over the report and said that its silence was an ‘acceptance of criminal activity’.