Arsenal Consulting says Pegasus software used to hack into Rona Wilson’s phone as well

Published : December 18, 2021 18:02 IST

Rona Wilson. Photo: The Hindu Archives

Arsenal Consulting, a forensics organisation based in the United States, has revealed that the jailed human rights activist Rona Wilson’s phone was attacked with Pegasus, a spyware software, 49 times over a period of 10 months. Wilson has been in prison since June 2018 when he was arrested in connection with the Bhima Koregaon/Elgaar Parishad case. Earlier this year, Arsenal Consulting released a report saying Wilson’s and Surendra Gadling’s (another accused in the Elgaar Parishad case) computers had been hacked into by the NetWire Remote Access Trojan (RAT) for over two years.

As Wilson was arrested when the police found incriminating evidence on his computer linking him to what they called the Bhima Koregaon conspiracy, Wilson’s defence lawyers engaged Arsenal Consulting to examine the electronic evidence submitted against him. In February 2021, the firm said Wilson’s computer had been “aggressively attacked” by spyware software that can only be bought by governments for surveillance activities. The firm found that a substantial amount of incriminating data had been planted via the malware to implicate Wilson in the Bhima Koregaon/Elgaar Parishad case.

In its second report released on December 17, the forensics firm says it found Pegasus indicators on the Windows volume of Wilson’s computer in two iTunes backups from an iPhone 6S. Timestamps associated with the indicators span from July 5, 2017 to April 10, 2018. The report says the firm used the methodology laid down by Amnesty’s Tech Security Lab and found indicators that showed Pegasus attacks had been carried out not only on Wilson’s computer but on his Apple phone as well.

Although the evidence provided by Arsenal Consulting has been presented in the special National Investigation Agency (NIA) court, there has been little progress in Wilson’s case. Wilson is among 16 victims who have been incarcerated for their alleged role in the Bhima Korgaon case, which involved a caste flare-up in January 2018.

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