Malware used to plant key evidence in Bhima Koregaon accused’s laptop: Report

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A new forensics report has found that key evidence against a group of activists and intellectuals, who have been arrested in the Bhima Koregaon case, was planted using malware on a laptop seized by police, The Washington Post reported.

Several activists and academics have been accused of making inflammatory speeches at the Elgar Parishad conclave held at Shaniwar Wada in Pune on December 31, 2017, which the authorities lead to the killing of one person and injuries to several others at Bhima-Koregaon war memorial the next day.

The report by Arsenal Consulting, a United States digital forensics firm, found that an attacker used malware to infiltrate a laptop belonging to activist Rona Wilson before his arrest and deposited at least 10 incriminating letters on his computer. The Pune Police used letters it found on the laptop as its primary evidence in the chargesheet they filed in the Bhima Koregaon case.

Among these was a letter that the police claimed Wilson had written to a Maoist militant, discussing the need for guns and ammunition as part of an intricate Maoist conspiracy, and even urging the banned group to assassinate Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The report found the letters had been planted in a hidden folder on Wilson’s laptop.

The report did not identify the perpetrator of the cyberattack, but it noted that Wilson was not the only victim. The same attacker deployed some of the same servers and IP addresses to target other accused in the case over a period of four years, it stated. The accused in other “high-profile Indian cases” were also targeted, the report said.

Wilson’s laptop was compromised “for just over 22 months”, the report said, adding that the attacker’s primary goals were “surveillance and incriminating document delivery”.

Arsenal had examined an electronic copy of the laptop at the request of Wilson’s lawyers. 

Sudeep Pasbola, a lawyer representing Wilson, told The Washington Post that the Arsenal report proved his client’s innocence and “destabilizes” the prosecution case against the activists.




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