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Phone of jailed Indian activist hacked by Israel spyware

December 21, 2021 at 11:56 am

A woman checks the website of Israel-made Pegasus spyware at an office in the Cypriot capital Nicosia on July 21, 2021 [MARIO GOLDMAN/AFP via Getty Images]

The Indian government has used the Israeli-made Pegasus software to spy on the indigenous Indian rights activist, Rona Wilson, who is currently in prison, the Guardian reported late last week.

Pegasus spyware was found on Wilson’s phone, he is a critic of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. According to the Guardian, “Wilson is part of a network of more than a dozen writers, lawyers and artists who advocated for the rights of indigenous communities and low-caste Indians and who have been detained since 2018.”

“A forensic analysis of Wilson’s phone by Amnesty International found evidence that it was infected with NSO Group spyware, called Pegasus, between July 2017 and March 2018, three months before his arrest on terror-related charges,” the Guardian added.

Wilson denies any involvement in a plot to overthrow Modi, with the Guardian reporting the research by US digital forensic science firm Arsenal Consulting saying evidence cited against them had been planted on laptops used by the activists.

Wilson’s mobile number was included in a leaked database at the heart of the Pegasus Project, an investigation into its parent company the NSO Group.

Last month, Mexico detained a man on allegations of cyber spying on a journalist using Pegasus, the Jerusalem Post reported.

It also said that another report around the same time stated that the phones of six Palestinian rights activists, who were connected to the six Palestinian NGOs described by Israel as terror groups, were hacked by NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware.

The company has come under US sanctions as a result of its use against world leaders and rights groups and fears that its use has led to the targeting and assassination of activists.

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