The chief minister-elect of Andhra Pradesh N Chandrababu Naidu has sought a report from the Andhra Pradesh Police on whether Pegasus spyware was used to tap phones belonging to him and his son Nara Lokesh by the outgoing Yuvajana Sramika Rythu Congress Party government, The Indian Express reported on Saturday.

When installed on an electronic device, the Pegasus software can generally gain access to phone calls, emails, location information, encrypted messages and photographs without the user’s knowledge.

The spyware is made by the Israeli firm NSO and is licensed to governments around the world. The cyber intelligence company says it sells the Pegasus software only to “vetted governments” with good human rights records and that it is intended to target criminals.

“I have been targeted twice, once during my Yuva Galam yatra in March 2023 and once this April during campaigning,” Lokesh told the newspaper. “We both received the alerts from [American technology company] Apple. We suspect that Pegasus was used by the Jagan government to tap our phones.”

Lokesh said that once the Telugu Desam Party government is formed in the state, it will investigate how the spyware was procured, the location from which it was operated and the people who were targeted, reported the newspaper.

He alleged that the former Jagan Mohan Reddy government acquired the spyware “off the books” and operated it from outside the state, reported The Indian Express.

On Friday, the Telugu Desam Party leader claimed that there is a “clear-cut intelligence input that systematic destruction of evidence is happening by the erstwhile government,” reported ANI.

“The chief minister designate, Mr Naidu has directed the DG [Director General of Police] to stop all that and seize all the offices till further instructions,” Lokesh told ANI.

The Telugu Desam Party along with its allies, the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Jana Sena Party, won the Andhra Pradesh Assembly elections on Tuesday. Naidu is set to be sworn in as the chief minister on June 12.

In July 2021, an investigation by a group of 17 media organisations and human rights group Amnesty International showed that Pegasus spyware was being used for the unauthorised surveillance of journalists, activists and politicians across the world, including in India.

In India, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, former Election Commissioner Ashok Lavasa, Union ministers Ashwini Vaishnaw and Prahlad Singh Patel, industrialist Anil Ambani and former Central Bureau of Investigation Director Alok Verma were among the potential targets, The Wire had reported.

The Indian government had denied these allegations. Vaishnaw, the Union information technology minister, told Parliament in July 2021 that illegal surveillance was not possible in India.

Following the reports, the Supreme Court appointed an expert committee to look into the allegations. In August 2022, the court said that some malware was found on five of the 29 phones that the panel examined. However, it was not clear whether the malware was Pegasus.

The judges also took note of a finding by the panel that the Centre did not cooperate with the inquiry.