Nine Indian human rights activists were the targets of a “spyware attack” in 2019, a report by Amnesty International in collaboration with University of Toronto-based Citizen Lab said. Eight of the nine activists had been working to release those in prisons in connection with the Bhima Koregaon violence case when they were targeted.
“Between January and October 2019, the HRDs [human rights defenders] were targeted with emails containing malicious links,” the report said. “If these links were clicked, a form of commercially-manufactured Windows spyware would have been deployed, compromising the target’s Windows computers, in order to monitor their actions and communications. This is a violation of their rights to freedom of expression and privacy.”
The organisation noted that since a few of the individuals were targeted several times showed a “disturbing pattern of spyware attacks against HRDs involved in the Bhima Koregaon case”. “The targeted HRDs have been openly speaking out about human rights violations in the country,” the report added. “Recently, eight called for the release of 11 prominent activists arrested two years ago in relation to the protests and violence at Bhima Koregaon in Maharashtra…. One of the targets is not directly linked to this case, but has been vocal in calling for the…