Hackers planted false files implicating Indian Jesuit Father Swamy who died in prison

NEW DELHI (CNS)—Catholic activists and priests want the Indian government to “take full responsibility” for the custodial death of Jesuit Father Stan Swamy after findings by U.S.-based digital forensic experts that false evidence was planted on the priest’s computer.

In a recent report, Arsenal Consulting, a Massachusetts-based digital forensics firm, said the “digital evidence used to arrest senior human rights defender Father Swamy in the Bhima-Koregaon case was planted on his computer’s hard drive.”

The 84-year-old Jesuit, a rights activist based in eastern Jharkhand state, died in a hospital while imprisoned in Mumbai in July 2021 after being denied bail on medical grounds, despite suffering from multiple age-related ailments.

He was arrested Oct. 8, 2020, by India’s anti-terror National Investigation Agency and accused of being party to a conspiracy allegedly hatched by outlawed Maoist rebels to unleash mob violence at Bhima-Koregaon, in the western state of Maharashtra, Jan. 1, 2018.

Ucanews.com reported Arsenal said “the attacker responsible for compromising Father Swamy’s computer had extensive resources (including time), and it is obvious that the primary goals were surveillance and incriminating document delivery.”

Disclosing details of the findings, Jesuit Father Joseph Xavier said in a statement that the hackers “first attacked Father Swamy’s computer on Oct. 19, 2014, using a Remote Access Trojan (RAT) called Netwire.”

“The report (by Arsenal) shows examples of the hackers being able to read his passwords as he was typing them, as well as other documents and emails,” said Father Xavier, who is also a convener of the Father Stan Swamy Legacy Committee of the Jesuits.

The hacker also read as many as 24,000 files on Father Stan’s device and planted files between July 2017 and June 2019, Father Xavier said, quoting from the report.

“Over 50 files were created on Father Swamy’s hard drive, including incriminating documents that fabricated links between Father Stan and the Maoist insurgency. The final incriminating document was planted on Father Stan’s computer on June 5, 2019, a week…