A group of Indian activists accused of a plot to eliminate the Indian prime minister were entrapped via a notorious Israeli made spyware.

A recently published forensics report reveals that vital evidence used against a group of Indian activists accused of plotting to overthrow the government was planted on a laptop before being seized by police.

Based on the investigation conducted by the US digital forensics firm Arsenal Consulting, Rona Wilson was among 16 people in the activist group who allegedly called on a Maoist insurgent group to assassinate India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi. 

Rona Wilson who has already spent three years in prison for alleged plots to incite violence and eliminate the Indian PM.

According to the forensics report, an unidentified attacker used malware to infiltrate Wilson’s laptop and managed to upload ten incriminating letters. 

The same malware by NetWire software was also sent to nine people who offered to assist the activist group and three others had been targeted with Israeli cyberarms firm NSO Group’s Pegasus software - which is only sold to governments. 

"This is one of the most serious cases involving evidence tampering that Arsenal has ever encountered," the report said.

Israeli NSO group’s Pegasus software has been the subject of controversy since it was sued by social media giant Facebook in the US as it was revealed that the spyware was gaining access to mobile phone users' WhatsApp conversations and potentially other forms of personal data.

WhatsApp on the other hand, previously confirmed that Israeli spyware was used to snoop on Indian journalists, activists. It was revealed that more than twenty academics, lawyers, Dalit activists and journalists in India were contacted and alerted by WhatsApp that their phones had been under state-of-the-art surveillance for a two-week period until May 2019.

Facebook-owned WhatsApp, in a startling revelation said that the journalists and human rights activists in India had been targets of surveillance by operators using Israeli spyware Pegasus.

The company also alleged that the owner of Pegasus software, Israeli NSO group targeted some 1,400 WhatsApp users. WhatsApp declined to reveal the identities and exact number of the victims who were targeted for surveillance in India. 

At the beginning of this month reports also emerged that Bangladesh, which doesn’t have diplomatic ties with Israel, purchased the Israeli-made surveillance equipment in 2018 which could be used to hack people's mobile phones. 

The deal was allegedly made between Bangladeshi military intelligence officers who were trained by Israeli intelligence experts in Hungary and a Bangkok-based middleman. 

From Africa, Middle East and the Gulf to South America

According to Israeli news website 972mag, Tel-Aviv has been exporting arms and spying equipment to the world's most repressive governments over the past few decades, although Israel doesn't release official information about its arms dealings.

In an article, the website said: “The list includes apartheid South Africa, the military Junta in Argentina, the Serbian army during the Bosnian genocide, and Rwanda in the years leading up to the genocide in the country." 

Another report  in December 2020 revealed that the Pegasus spyware created by the Israeli NSO Group, was reportedly used by Abu Dhabi and Riyadh to hack into the phones and devices of several Al Jazeera journalists.

The incident was uncovered after Al Jazeera journalist Tamer Almisshal sought out cybersecurity watchdog Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto following suspicions that his phone had been hacked. The researchers then monitored his phone and found the spyware. 

In its report, Citizen Lab raised its concerns over the vulnerability of Apple's iPhone and the impact the lack of sufficient security had had on one a prominent international media organisations.

According to Citizen Lab, in 2020 alone, at least 36 Al Jazeera journalists had been targeted by advanced spyware sold by the Israeli group in an attack linked to the governments of Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Source: TRT World