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(LifeSiteNews) — A digital forensics firm has found that a hacker planted false evidence onto the computer of a late Indian priest who was imprisoned under an anti-terrorism law and died while incarcerated.

“Multiple findings” link India’s government to the hacking, according to a report by Massachusetts-based Arsenal Consulting, which found that the laptop of Jesuit priest Stan Swamy was infected beginning in 2014 with a commercially available malware, NetWire, which can “upload and download files from a target’s computer, log keystrokes and access emails and passwords,” according to The Washington Post.

The finding raises concerns that such malware could be illicitly employed by governments around the globe for political persecution.

After what Arsenal reported was a five-year-long malware campaign during which “dozens of files” were dropped into a “hidden folder” unbeknown to Swamy, his device was seized by police in 2019, and he was arrested and charged under the “anti-terror” Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) for his alleged role in the 2018 Bhima Koregaon violence, which resulted in one death and five injuries.

Swamy was additionally accused of being a “sympathizer” of the Maoists, that is, the Communist Party of India, which aims to overthrow the government and has been designated as a terrorist organization by the state. The Persecuted Prisoners Solidarity Committee (PPSC) Swamy co-founded “to fight for the release of around 3,000 … who have been labeled as Maoists and imprisoned” was accused of being a front for Maoist fundraising.

Swamy himself has pointed out that he does dissent against government policies. For example, he has questioned the non-implementation of the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution, which would have set up a Tribes Advisory Council composed solely of Adivasi community members, for their protection; he also noted that he challenged the government’s “indiscriminate” arrest of thousands of young adivasis.

Swamy is among over a dozen activists, academics, and lawyers who have been imprisoned under the UAPA for accusations of plotting to overthrow the government in what is known as the Bhima Koregaon case, although they deny the charges. The UAPA is criticized for its power to label individuals as terrorists before they are proved guilty by trial, and for its low conviction rate of about two percent.

The result is a “process of punishment by trial,” according to Ajai Sahni, executive director of the Institute for Conflict Management, during which defendants are held almost indefinitely, without the prospect of bail.

Swamy, who had Parkinson’s disease, did not survive a full trial. He was hospitalized for poor health after spending almost eight months in jail and died in July 2021 after being placed on a ventilator.

At least two of Swamy’s fellow activists, Surendra Gadling and Rona Wilson, who were likewise jailed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government, were also found by Arsenal to have had evidence planted on their computers by a hacker. Among these planted files were “an explosive letter mentioning a plot to assassinate Modi,” according to The Washington Post.

Eight of the defendants in the Bhima Koregaon case have also been identified in a collaborative investigation by various news outlets as having been included on a list of surveillance targets for the spyware “Pegasus” supplied by the Israeli NSO Group to governments around the world.

It is unknown how many of these defendants were ultimately targeted by the spyware. The Washington Post reported that India’s government did not respond to questions about whether it is an NSO client, and that it stated that “any interception, monitoring or decryption of any information through any computer resource is done as per due process of law.”

The investigation found that the spyware has been used in Dubai, Mexico, and Saudi Arabia, for starters.

Modi has not only been criticized for his crackdown on dissenters but for his government’s support of Christian oppression, according to Open Doors President David Curry.

“The ruling party of Prime Minister Modi does not even hide its agenda to drive out Christians by the year 2025,” Curry wrote in a 2017 op-ed for The Hill, adding, “Major news media reports in the country show his key advisers publicly bragging about this injustice perpetrated against the Christian community of India, comprised of an estimated 63 million Indian citizens.”

Modi is heavily pro-abortion, having been the “first prime minister in India who passed in both houses of parliament” legal abortion at 24 weeks, as India’s Family Minister for Women and Child Development Smriti Irani has pointed out.

The prime minister has also been widely condemned around the world for what is seen as his role in the Gujarat riots of 2002, during which more than 2,000 people were killed. For this reason, and his alleged responsibility for “severe violations of religious freedom,” the United States revoked Modi’s visa in 2005.