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Elgar Parishad Accused HC to Drop Case, Cites US Firm’s Forensic Report That Computer Is ‘Compromised’ For 22 Months | India News


MUMBAI: A private digital forensic consultant in the US released a Feb. 8 report saying that the computer of one of the defendants in the Elgar Parishad case from Pune was “compromised for just over 22 months” in what was “one of the most serious cases of tampering” that he has encountered.
Defendant Rona Wilson, 42, housed in Taloja jail, filed a petition with the Bombay High Court on Wednesday to vacate the criminal case against him, citing the US forensic report as an “irreproachable and independent expert analysis.” . He also requests orders for a special investigation. team to “investigate to determine the person / s behind such placement of fabricated documents on their electronic devices, to implicate them in the sensational case” and then process them. Now he is also asking for “monetary compensation” for his “mental agony and harassment, violation of fundamental rights, loss of reputation” and to suspend all proceedings in the case and release him on bail, as an interim measure until his request is resolved.
The trial has not started yet and there are more than 200 witnesses, he said.
Wilson, ‘an independent researcher’ and human rights activist with a JNU M.Phil who was in the process of earning a PhD from the University of Leicester or Surrey, England in 2018, has been in custody since his arrest in June 2018. copies cloned from “digital evidence” “recovered” by police against him and other suspected Maoists, for forensic analysis at the Massachusetts-based consulting firm last July. Police citing “letters” found embedded in the computers of some of the defendants, including Wilson’s, as evidence to prosecute them under the strict Illegal Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) aimed at combating terrorism.
Their petition says that the 22,000-page charge sheet shows that the prosecution against the 16 defendants is “based entirely on electronic evidence.”
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) received the investigation, originally with the Pune police and later with the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS), last January. On Wednesday, Additional Attorney General Anil Singh, who appeared for the NIA against the bail statements of several defendants, said he had not seen the United States forensic report, but questioned its value at this time, saying “it can be proven or analyze during the trial. ”
The police had given Wilson cloned copies of the data they had seized during the investigation. The US company said it received “a hard drive on July 31, 2020 that contained forensic images and police work products related to Wilson and others accused of instigating violence at an event on January 1, 2018 to commemorate the battle of Koregaon Bhima “.
The 16-page report stated that “the attacker responsible for compromising Mr. Wilson’s computer was highly resourceful (including time) and it is obvious that his main objectives were surveillance and the delivery of incriminating documents.”
The forensic consultant said that he “has connected the same attacker to a major malware infrastructure that has been in place over the course of approximately four years not only to attack and compromise Wilson’s computer for 22 months, but also to attack his co-defendants. (Co-defendant in the case) ” adding ” and other defendants in other high-profile Indian cases as well. ”
The reports said there was a “long period of time” between the “delivery of the first and the last incriminating document.”
He said that Wilson’s computer was first compromised on June 13, 2016 after a series of suspicious emails with someone using Varavara Rao’s email account. ” Rao is one of the co-defendants in the Elgar case and is currently admitted to Nanavati Private Super Specialty Hospital, while the Bombay High Court has reserved his request for health bail for warrants.
“During the course of the email conversation, the person using Varavara Rao’s email account made several attempts to get Wilson to open a particular document, ‘another victory.rar’ ” which he did. “It was part of a chain of events that led to the installation of the NetWire Remote Access Trojan (RAT) on Wilson’s computer,” the report says. It details the steps taken to perform the forensic analysis and findings and what the “attacker used” as a “staging area” for “file synchronization”
Under a subtitle called “Document Delivery,” the report says it found no evidence, despite “aggressively searching” to suggest that MS Word 2010 or later versions ever existed on Wilson’s computer. “We are also not aware” that he has another computer. The version installed on his computer was 2007. “This is relevant because some of the most incriminating documents on Mr. Wilson’s computer, who was allegedly the author of him, were saved in PDF in Word 2010 or Word 2013.
Mark Stevens’s report says that when the company contacted other organizations “whose services were abused by Wilson attackers to build and maintain their malware infrastructure,” many “understood the severity” and were helpful, while that others adopted a “duck and cover.” strategy that affects your ability to reveal the full scope of the malware infrastructure.
In its response to object to Rao’s release on bail last year, the NIA said that “the recorded evidence clearly establishes that Rao, Rona Wilson, and other defendants, including the defendants who escaped… hatched a conspiracy and they obtained arms and ammunition to carry out illegal activities according to the objectives of CPI (Maoist), a prohibited organization. ”
NIA said that “Rao was in contact with a high-ranking leader of the Maoist organization in Nepal who was assisting in the purchase of arms and ammunition.”
In August 2019, while defending bail for co-defendant Sudha Bharadwaj, a law professor, who was denied by an order of the Bombay HC on October 15, 2019, his lawyer Yug Chaudhary had questioned the admissibility of the ‘letters ‘.
Chaudhary said she was arrested “only in typed, unsigned and unverified letters” allegedly recovered from the computers of a co-defendant. He had presented, “the belief is that if they (the police) chant the national security mantra loud enough and often enough, the court will close their minds and seal the evidence.”
“Not a single document in the document collection is admissible by law,” Chaudhary had said. “They don’t have a single original document. They are all printed, not original, ” he had underlined.

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