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Activist Rona Wilson’s phone infected with Pegasus spyware, says new forensic report

The recent report by the US-based Arsenal Consulting claims that two backups of an Apple iPhone belonging to Wilson had digital traces showing infection by the Pegasus surveillance tool, a Washington Post report has stated.

By: Express News Service | Mumbai |
Updated: December 18, 2021 6:05:00 am
Activist Rona Wilson. (File Photo)

AN ANALYSIS by an external forensics firm has claimed that the phone of activist Rona Wilson was “attacked and infected” with Pegasus spyware before his arrest by the Pune Police in 2018 in connection with the Elgaar Parishad case.

The report by US-based Arsenal Consulting — a digital forensic consulting company — claimed that two back-ups of an Apple iPhone belonging to Wilson had digital traces showing infection by the Pegasus surveillance tool.

It said that a NetWire RAT (Remote Access Trojan) was used “for purposes of both surveillance and incriminating document delivery” on Wilson’s phone.

The report stated that Wilson’s defence team had retained Arsenal Consulting to analyse electronic evidence seized from his home by the Pune Police on April 17, 2018.

“Arsenal found Pegasus indicators on the Windows volume of Wilson’s computer in two iTune backups from an iPhone 6s (Wilson’s iPhone)… Timestamps associated with these indicators span from July 5, 2017 to April 10, 2018,” the report summarised. Wilson was arrested on June 6, 2018.

“It (the report) has legal consequences on the case. So, appropriate action will be taken in due course,” senior counsel Indira Jaising, who represents Wilson, said.

In February, Wilson had approached the Bombay High Court with a previous report by Arsenal Consulting that concluded “incriminating evidence” found by investigators in his laptop were “planted”. The malware was allegedly planted on his laptop through an email on June 13, 2016, two years before his arrest, Wilson’s petition had said.

The recent report analysing Wilson’s phone said “Pegasus Indicators” that the forensic firm found included 15 text messages received as various links on topics like Maoist gunning down two police officers in Chhattisgarh, JNU student union elections, human rights, one on the Una incident against Dalits and the film Padmavaat.

The Pune Police in July had opposed Wilson’s petition, which sought quashing of the charge sheet filed, claiming that the charges were based on material that was allegedly planted on his electronic devices.

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