Bhima Koregaon case: NIA attempts to dismiss Arsenal’s findings about Rona Wilson’s laptop

The US digital forensics firm had found that malware had been planted on Wilson’s laptop in a bid to falsify evidence


The National Intelligence Agency (NIA) has called into question the locus of Arsenal in offering opinion in the Bhima Koregaon case. In February this year, Arsenal Consulting, a Massachusetts-based digital forensics firm had analysed an electronic copy of activist Rona Wilson’s laptop and arrived at the conclusion that an attacker used malware to infiltrate the laptop and place incriminating evidence on it.

But the NIA today told the Bombay High Court that Wilson cannot rely on Arsenal’s finding to quash the case against him. Bar&Bench quoted the NIA’s affidavit as saying, “All the contentions which are raised by the Petitioner are entirely based on the basis of the report of M/s. Arsenal Consultancy. This report does not form part of the Chargesheets which are filed by the Respondent and Pune police. It is settled position of law that, documents which are not relied into the Chargesheet cannot be relied by the Petitioner and as such there is no question of looking into the report of the M/s. Arsenel Consultancy and as such the entire contention of the Petitioner deserve to be rejected as the same are based on the report which does not find place in the present Chargesheet.”

In his plea, Wilson has invoked Article 226 of the Constitution and Section 482 of the CrPC to seek the formation of a Special Investigation Team to inquire into the findings of the report.

The matter will be heard next on May 4.

Arsenal’s findings:

According to Arsenal’s report, “Rona Wilson’s computer was compromised for just over 22 months.” They also found, “The attacker responsible for compromising Mr. Wilson’s computer had extensive resources (including time) and it is obvious that their primary goals were surveillance and incriminating document delivery.”

But there was another chilling revelation, “Arsenal has connected the same attacker to a significant malware infrastructure which has been deployed over the course of approximately four years to not only attack and compromise Mr. Wilson’s computer for 22 months, but to attack his co-defendants in the Bhima Koregaon case and defendants in other high-profile cases as well.”

On an eerie note, Arsenal conceded, “This is one of the most serious cases involving evidence tampering that Arsenal has ever encountered, based on various metrics which include the vast time span between the delivery of the first and the last incriminating documents.”

The Arsenal report then went on to explain just how the carefully planned malware attack was carried out. Wilson received an email from someone using his fellow activist Varavara Rao’s email account. This person sent Wilson the malware in a document asking him to open it. Wilson thought he was just clicking a dropbox link, but it was just a series of steps by which NetWire was installed on his computer. 

It is noteworthy that in wake of these findings not only Wilson, but another Bhima Koregaon accused Sudha Bharadwaj has demanded that an investigation be conducted to ascertain Arsenal’s claims. This could open the door for many other Bhima Koregaon accused to move court to quash the cases against them.  


Bhima Koregaon case: Was evidence planted to implicate activists?
Primary goals were surveillance and incriminating document delivery: Arsenal Report



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