Thursday, November 14, 2019

Two of 265 India-Linked Anti-Pakistan Fake News Sites Located in Pakistan

Researchers at Europe's Disinfo Lab have uncovered a network of 265 online news sites in 65 countries, including Pakistan, using the names and brands of defunct newspapers from the 20th century to push anti-Pakistan media coverage inside the regular news cycle. Two of these sites are located in Pakistani cities of Karachi and Lahore, according to Disinfo Lab's report. They are linked to social media accounts.  These two sites were spewing disinformation on Pakistan using the names of the long defunct Socialist Weekly (Karachi) and Khalsa Akhbar (Lahore), according to Pakistani researchers.  The real Karachi-based Urdu language Socialist Weekly and Lahore-based Punjabi language Khalsa Akhbar ceased publishing decades ago, long before the advent of online publishing.

Two of 265 Anti-Pakistan Websites in Pakistan. Source: EU Disinfo Lab

The fake news sites were aimed at reinforcing the legitimacy of anti-Pakistan NGOs by providing linkable press materials to reinforce an anti-Pakistan agenda. Two of these anti-Pakistan NGOs named by Disinfo Lab are European Organization for Pakistani Minorities (EOPM), and Pakistani Women’s Human Rights Organization.

Anti-Pakistan Fake News Network Managed By Indians

EU DisinfoLab found that this anti-Pakistan campaign is managed by Indian stakeholders, with ties to a large network of think tanks, NGOs, and companies from the Srivastava Group. they also discovered that the IP address of the Srivastava Group is also home to the obscure online media “New Delhi Times” and the International Institute for Non-Aligned Studies (IINS), which are all based at the same address in New Delhi, India.

Here are some of EU Disinfo Lab findings from these anti-Pakistan websites:

1. Most of them are named after an extinct local newspaper or spoof real media outlets.

2. They republish content from several news agencies (KCNA, Voice of America, Interfax).

3. Coverage of the same Indian-related demonstrations and events;

4. Republications of anti-Pakistan content from the described Indian network (including EP Today, 4NewsAgency, Times Of Geneva, New Delhi Times).

5. Most websites have a Twitter account as well.

But why have they created these fake media outlets? Disinfo Lab's analysis of the content and how it is shared found several ostensible reason for it:

1. Influence international institutions and elected representatives with coverage of specific events and demonstrations.

2. Provide NGOs with useful press material to reinforce their credibility and thus be impactful.

3. Add several layers of media outlets that quote and republish one another, making it harder for the reader to trace the manipulation, and in turn (sometimes) offer a “mirage” of international support.

4. Influence public perceptions on Pakistan by multiplying iterations of the same content available on search engines.

EU Dininfo Lab has shown that India's disinformation campaign goes well beyond planted stories in Indian media; it extends across 65 countries, including Pakistan, with a network of 265 online news sites. It appears that Indian intelligence agencies have stepped up their 5th generation warfare against Pakistan.

Related Links:

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South Asia Investor Review

PTM: Lowdown on Manzoor Pashteen

East Pakistan "Genocide" Headline

Ex Indian Spy On RAW's Successes Against Pakistan

Free Speech: Myth or Reality?

Social Media Tribalism

Social Media: Blessing or Curse For Pakistan?

Planted Stories in Media

Indian BJP Troll Farm

Kulbhushan Jadhav Caught in Balochistan

The Story of Pakistan's M8 Motorway

Pakistan-China-Russia vs India-Japan-US

Riaz Haq's Youtube Channel



10 comments:

Riaz Haq said...

We Can Make Any Message We Want Go Viral, Real or Fake, says #Modi’s crony #AmitShah . #BJP president Amit Shah boasted how the party workers were capable of spreading any message among people, regardless of whether it is ‘true or false’. #India #Hindutva

https://www.thequint.com/news/politics/amit-shah-real-fake-can-make-messages-viral

Addressing the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) social media volunteers in Kota, Rajasthan, BJP president Amit Shah boasted how the party workers were capable of spreading any message among people, regardless of whether it is ‘true or false’.

Boasting about the party’s WhatsApp group with over 32 lakh people, Shah recounted how a party worker sent out a fake message claiming Akhilesh Yadav had slapped father Mulayam Yadav. “There was no truth to this message, but it went viral,” he said, adding the caveat that he didn’t think this was the right approach, but reiterating that the party workers are “capable of delivering any message to the public.”

You can fast forward the video to 26:30 to listen to Shah’s exact words–

Hum jo chaahein woh sandesh janta tak pahuncha saktey hain, chaahe khatta ho ya meetha ho, sacha ho ya jhoota ho. Yeh kaam kar sakte hain, magar woh is liye ho paaya, hum 32 lakh WhatsApp ka ek group bana ke khade the. Tab jaakar yeh phelne ka kaam hua (We can spread any message we want, whether it is true false. We were able to do it because we have 32 lakh people on our WhatsApp group. This is how we make things go viral.)

Riaz Haq said...

Two #Indian citizens living in #Germany have been found guilty of spying on #Kashmiris and #Sikhs for #India's intelligence agency #RAW. #Modi #BJP #Hindutva https://p.dw.com/p/3UfRU?maca=en-Twitter-sharing Germany: Indian couple convicted of spying for Delhi

A German court on Thursday convicted an Indian married couple of spying on Kashmiri and Sikh groups in Germany on behalf of India's foreign intelligence service.

The court in Frankfurt found Manmohan S., 50, and his wife, Kanwal Jit K., 51, guilty of handing information on such groups to India's Research and Analysis Wing (RAW).

Their last names are not given in accordance with German privacy laws.

Manmohan S. was handed a one-and-a-half-year suspended jail sentence for illegal espionage activities, while Kanwal Jit K. received a fine equivalent to 180 days of income for aiding and abetting such activities.

Separatism fears

The husband's espionage activities are said to have begun in January 2015, with his wife joining him in collecting intelligence from July 2017. The couple are reported to have received €7,200 ($7,974) from RAW for their services.

During the trial, the two eventually confessed to regular meetings with a RAW handling officer to hand over information.

Delhi has in the past expressed concern that Sikhs, particularly those living in the diaspora could harbor hostility to the Indian state. It is also worried that the Kashmiri separatist movement could be strengthened from abroad.

Germany has the third largest community of Sikhs in Europe after Britain and Italy, according to the German religious rights group REMID, with between 10,000 and 20,000 adherents of the religion living in the country.

Riaz Haq said...

#BJP resorts to #fake 'lonely woman' on Twitter to drum up support for #CAA. #AmitShah asking people to give missed calls to show support for the Citizenship Amendment Act — is now being shared by many Twitter accounts. #Modi #fakenews #Hindutva https://www.huffingtonpost.in/entry/bjp-lonely-woman-twitter-caa-support_in_5e10660cc5b6b5a713ba970b?ncid=other_twitter_cooo9wqtham&utm_campaign=share_twitter


The Narendra Modi government has made clear that it won’t “budge an inch” on the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) amid non-stop protests across the country against the discriminatory law.

The BJP has gone to many lengths to get support for the CAA, including getting Jaggi Vasudev, a self-styled guru, to speak for it and dismiss the protests. It has set up a phone number asking people to give missed calls to support the CAA. And now, several accounts on Twitter are sharing said phone number, pretending to be a lonely, bored women asking people to call the number. Yep, you read that right.

Not just that, there are other Twitter accounts that claim you will get a free Netflix subscription for 6 months if you call the number. There are others who are claiming pepple need to urgently call them on the number.

This BJP ploy, to “show” numbers in support of the CAA, was pointed out by Twitter user @samjawed65 who took screenshots of all the people claiming to be lonely and asking people to call this BJP number.

A quick look on Twitter reveals that this particular number has been tweeted out by top leaders of the BJP including Amit Shah and BJP MP Shobha Karandlaje. The Karnataka BJP Twitter handle also shared this number.


Riaz Haq said...

Farewell to #Pakistan's #socialmedia celebrity Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor
@peaceforchange. He sought to control the #narrative for the world's 6th largest army earning him grudging praise from his #Indian army counterpart Retd Gen Rajesh Pant. #warfare


https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-51148762#

It is not often a military spokesperson doubles as a national celebrity, about whom internet memes are made and whose name trends on Twitter.

But Pakistan's Maj-Gen Asif Ghafoor is one such individual. As he leaves his post after three headline-grabbing years, praise and criticism have poured in in equal measure.

The transfer was expected but it came days after an unseemly social media spat with TV anchor Sana Bucha, which raised eyebrows about his conduct.

Skip Twitter post by @peaceforchange

Asif Ghafoor

@peaceforchange
Thanks for your love & support. Stay strong, continue doing your bit for Pakistan.Stay blessed
آپکی محبت اورحمایت کاشکریہ۔ مضبوط رہتے ہوۓ پاکستان کے لئے اپنا کام جاری رکھیں۔ Stay blessed.

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Skip Twitter post by @TalatHussain12

Syed Talat Hussain

@TalatHussain12
Removal of Gen Asif Ghafoor as DGISPR is an important step to refashion the Army’s image in COAS Bajwa’s second term. The x DG had turned ISPR into Ghafoor-PR with his frivolous pursuits, outlandish ideas, and obsessive self projection.

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His successor will find the departing director-general of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) quite an act to follow. Gen Ghafoor's late-night musings on Twitter provided plenty of controversy and copious fodder for Pakistan's twitterati.

Subjects for discussion could appear random - he irked India by praising Bollywood actress Deepika Padukone for attending anti-government protests in Delhi. But he could just as easily post about burn ointment, butchers or stray dogs.

Combative tweets from his personal account in the past few days showed how he sought to control the narrative for the world's sixth largest army.

The general frequently sparred with retired Indian military officials or journalists on Twitter; at other times he would "troll" Pakistani journalists and individuals who criticised the country's military.

Earlier this week he locked horns with Sana Bucha after she tweeted criticising the military. Ms Bucha retaliated by reminding him "to show some class" but that was met with a thinly veiled warning that she should "make a choice".

Skip Twitter post by @sanabucha

Sana Bucha

@sanabucha
اپنے عہدے اور ادارے ، دونوں کا پاس رکھنے کے لئے شکریہ۔ @peaceforchange �� https://twitter.com/peaceforchange/status/1216658786007572481 …

Asif Ghafoor

@peaceforchange
Replying to @sanabucha
Not without a reason. I never initiated anything. Please see your unethical expressions which provoked response from me & fellow Pakistanis. I am deleting my yesterday’s responses only respecting journalistic ethos. You can make your choice for now & future. It’s two to tango.

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Riaz Haq said...

Yet another #socialmedia lie shared by #Modi's #Hindutva #Bhakts: Video of "failed" rocket test in #Pakistan! It is FALSE!! The video is in fact from #Russia, not Pakistan. #India #Propaganda https://www.hindustantimes.com/it-s-viral/fact-check-does-viral-video-show-failed-missile-test-in-pakistan-here-s-the-truth/story-N0wuvzx2EmofhB1gNlQ9TN.html

A dramatic video of a rocket bursting into flames moments after being launched is going viral on social media. People are sharing the clip with the claim that it shows an unsuccessful launch of Pakistan’s surface to surface short range ballistic missile Ghaznavi. The claim is false.

Many are sharing the same video with the exact caption on both Twitter and Facebook. Written in Hindi, the caption when translated reads, “13th test launch of Pakistan’s Ghaznavi missile failed. The missile that claims reaching the range of 300 kms fell down like burnt paper just at 36 kms.”

A search of the keyframes of the video revealed multiple links and most of them are shared back in 2013. One of the links, with the same video, was shared by the BBC. Turns out, the failed rocket test took place in Russia in 2013. It’s an unmanned Russian Proton-M rocket which crashed and burned after being launched at the Russian Baikonur facility in Kazakhstan. The same video reporting the incident was also shared on YouTube by The Telegraph.

Further, Inter Services Public Relations Directorate of Pakistan Armed Forces took to YouTube on January 23, 2020, to share a video of successful launch of Ghaznavi.

Riaz Haq said...

Tarek Fatah, the unrelenting #FakeNews peddler who targets #Indian #Muslims and #Pakistan regularly

POOJA CHAUDHURI 28 January, 2020 9:00 am IST

https://theprint.in/hoaxposed/tarek-fatah-the-unrelenting-fake-news-peddler-who-targets-indian-muslims-regularly/355214/

Tarak Fatah tweeted a video of Burqa-clad women dancing at a wedding, asking if it was from Shaheen Bagh. Fatah had tweeted the same video three years ago, twice.


prominent name on social media, Tarek Fatah is an active Twitter user with over 6 lakh followers. But on numerous occasions, the Pakistani-Canadian writer has been found circulating misinformation along communal lines, particularly targeting Indian Muslims. A matter of even more concern is Fatah’s failure to take down misleading tweets despite being made aware of the misinformation. In fact, in the latest spree, he took an extra effort to ensure that his followers remain misled.

Fatah tweeted a video of Burqa-clad persons dancing to a Bollywood number. He questioned – “Could someone confirm if this video is from the #CAA_NRCProtests at #ShaheenBagh or nor?” There are enough hints in the video which suggest that it does not represent protests at Shaheen Bagh against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC). The group is dancing around a woman dressed as a bride. Quite ironically, Fatah had tweeted the same video three years ago…twice. When he was slammed for the same, Fatah quietly took down his tweet from August 2017. However, he missed doing the same for the video tweeted earlier in May 2017.

1. Tweeted morphed image to claim Madrasa teacher portraying Islam superior to Hinduism
Last year in June, Tarek Fatah tweeted a photograph claiming that it depicts a madrasa teacher coaching his students that Islam is superior to Hinduism. He later took down the tweet, however, not before it drew numerous retweets.

The image tweeted by Fatah was morphed. In the original photograph, published by several media organisations including ANI, the blackboard has words written in Sanskrit. The teacher was giving the students a lesson on the language. Incidentally, this piece of misinformation had been debunked by Alt News just days before Fatah’s tweet.

2. False claim that a girl was assaulted for not wearing Hijab
Similar to the earlier misinformation, Fatah had claimed that a girl was hit on the head by a man who disapproved of her cycling without wearing a Hijab (archive).

Alt News found multiple Turkish reports which stated that the man had indeed assaulted the 9-year-old. However, none of the reports mentioned a lack of Hijab as the motive of the crime. The incident had gained much prominence in Turkey after the perpetrator was released from jail and referred to a mental health facility. Despite Fatah’s tweet being debunked two years ago, he is yet to take it down.

3. Tweeted video of Islamic flags being raised during Ramzan as Pakistani flags
In his latest bout, Fatah tweeted a video where bike-borne men can be seen waving green coloured flags. The Pakistani-Canadian writer claimed that the flags were of Pakistan and were raised during Ramzan in Tamil Nadu (archive).

However, the flags were not of Pakistani but were Islamic flags often used by the Muslim community in the sub-continent. Alt News’s detailed fact-check can be read here.

4. Tweeted old video to claim Muslims celebrated Congress’s victory by waving Pak flags
The “Pak flags” theory has been propagated by Fatah several times. Last year, after Congress won the assembly polls in Rajasthan, he claimed that the victory was celebrated by Muslims in the state by raising Pakistani flags. Fatah later deleted the tweet but an archived version can be accessed here.

The flags in the video were actually representative of the ‘Indian Union Muslim League’ and not Pakistan. Alt News’s fact-check can be read here.

Riaz Haq said...

Big #Tech's honeymoon with world's 2nd largest #internet #market is ending. Rules on local #data storage will hurt #India's tech growth. #Delhi's Current data protection legislation lacks people protection and gives govt a supra interest over everyone https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/26/tech/india-internet-regulation-tech-industry/index.html

In the 2010s, India's internet exploded. More than half a billion Indians came online in the 10 years to September 2019, according to the latest government data, and the country now has twice as many internet users as the entire population of the United States.

And Big Tech rushed to cash in. Facebook (FB) CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter (TWTR) CEO Jack Dorsey both visited India and met the country's Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as did Google (GOOGL) CEO Sundar Pichai and Microsoft (MSFT) CEO Satya Nadella, both of whom were born and grew up in India. Nadella and Amazon's Jeff Bezos both made their second visits to the country as tech CEOs earlier this year.
All those tech giants, along with others including Uber (UBER) and Netflix (NFLX), collectively invested billions in their Indian operations, rolling out several "India-first" features and local language versions of their platforms. More billions came from their Asian peers like SoftBank (SFTBF), Tencent (TCEHY), Bytedance and Alibaba (BABA) — mostly through investments in India's biggest startups.
But India is now making changes to the rules of operating in the country that could make the next decade much tougher for those global tech firms trying to profit from its massive market. A raft of regulations in the works will affect how companies — particularly foreign ones — collect and store data, sell products online and protect their users' privacy. With growing, government-backed internet shutdowns, their basic access to their users is being cut off in many parts of the country.

In perhaps a sign of the changing times, neither Bezos nor Nadella, the latter of whom recently criticized India's controversial citizenship bill, publicly met Modi during their visits this year.

With nearly 700 million internet users and almost an equal number of people yet to come online for the first time, India is too big a market to ignore. But the tightening of restrictions on foreign tech companies and government intervention in controlling the internet are sparking concerns that the world's largest democracy is becoming increasingly China-esque.
"A heavy-handed government that wishes to use technology to surveil its own citizens or control the narrative by curtailing their free speech and expression is not interested in using technology for the good but merely to control," says Mishi Choudhary, co-founder and legal director of New York-based tech advocacy group Software Freedom Law Center. "In such scenarios comparisons with the Chinese authoritarian internet are natural."
What India does next will likely have implications for the internet far beyond its own borders.
"India's potential and opportunity are undisputed, however its attempt to artificially ringfence itself from the global digital economy is concerning," says Jeff Paine, managing director of the Asia Internet Coalition, a tech industry group whose members include Google, Facebook, Amazon and Twitter. "We hope policy makers will take a holistic and long-term view."

Riaz Haq said...

Press Is Not Free Anymore in #Modi's #India. #Delhi pressurizes advertisers and shuts down TV channels to control and shape information citizens get. Apologetic calls from #advertisers have become so common that #NDTV executives are no longer surprised. https://nyti.ms/39yl1d3

The Media One anchorman Vinesh Kunhiraman went on air as usual on March 6, ready to tell the station’s five million viewers in India’s Kerala State about the death anniversary of a beloved comedian and the latest news on the coronavirus pandemic.

Just a few minutes into the broadcast, he saw the managing editor rush to the studio floor, gesturing wildly. “I realized something was not right,” Mr. Kunhiraman recalled.

The station’s uplink suddenly went dead. Mr. Kunhiraman’s image dissolved into a blue screen. A bland message told viewers there was no signal. “We regret the inconvenience,” it said.

But this was no technical difficulty. The station had been cut off by an order from India’s Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. The government decided to block the channel for 48 hours because it had covered February’s biggest news story — the mob attacks on Muslims in New Delhi that flared into broader unrest — in a way that seemed “critical toward Delhi Police and R.S.S.,” the order said.

The R.S.S. is a Hindu-nationalist social movement with close ties to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party.

“It was shocking the central government took such a decision,” said R. Subhash, an editor at Media One. “It was an attack on the freedom of the press.”

India’s free press has played a crucial role in protecting this country’s democracy since its independence from Britain in 1947. But journalists here now feel under attack.

Since Mr. Modi came to power in 2014, they say, his government has tried to control the country’s news media, especially the airwaves, like no other prime minister in decades. Mr. Modi has shrewdly cultivated the media to build a cult of personality that portrays him as the nation’s selfless savior.

At the same time, senior government officials have pressed news outlets — berating editors, cutting off advertising, ordering tax investigations — to ignore the uglier side of his party’s campaign to transform India from a tolerant, religiously diverse country into an assertively Hindu one.

With the coronavirus pandemic, Mr. Modi has gotten more blatant in his attempt to control coverage and, as with other difficult stories, some Indian news executives seem willing to go along.

Right before he announced the world’s largest coronavirus lockdown, on 1.3 billion people, Mr. Modi met with top news executives and urged them to publish “inspiring and positive stories” about the government’s efforts. Then, after the lockdown stranded half a million migrant workers, with some dying along the highways, his lawyers persuaded the Supreme Court this week to order all media to “publish the official version” of coronavirus developments, although outlets are still allowed to carry independent reporting.

------------

The shutdown of Media One and another Kerala television station, Asianet News, in March was a new twist. Both stations broadcast in Malayalam, a local language spoken by less than 3 percent of Indians. And both channels had aired witness accounts that echoed what many other outlets aired during the violence in Delhi: that the police had done little to stop Hindu mobs as they rampaged against Muslims.

Riaz Haq said...

#India's Foolish Editor Aarti Tikoo Singh's Makes Up #FakeNews Based on Satirical Report about #ImranKhan of #Pakistan https://tribune.com.pk/story/2216386/1-tribune-fact-check-pm-imran-says-covid-19-curve-flattening-reading-chart-upside/

https://twitter.com/haqsmusings/status/1258601641508511744?s=20

The Indian media thought they had pounced upon a ‘glaring error’ made by Prime Minister Imran Khan and went as far as rehashing a satirical piece to try to put words in his mouth.

The Pakistani premier is no stranger to a gaffe from time to time, however, in this case media outlets from neighbouring India were in for a ‘rude awakening’.

The Dependent, a satirical Pakistani website, published a piece here poking fun at PM Imran.

The article outlines how PM Imran addressed a press conference attended by leading journalists in which he claimed that the government had reached the ‘epidemiological holy grail’ of flattening the Covid-19 curve in the country.`

The curve refers to the projected number of new cases of the virus, that has brought the entire world to a standstill, over a period of time.

The article goes on to detail how the prime minister rails on about the ‘achievement’ before being told by one of his aides that he has been reading the chart upside down all along.

It soon began doing the rounds on social media and was picked up by Indian journalist Aarti Tikoo Singh, who literally took it at face value and was then published with her by-line for Indian news outlet Indo-Asian News Service.

Television personality and seasoned journalist Zarar Khuhro, also tweeted how the Indian media got it wrong and had unintentionally provided some comic relief in the process.

The article was also widely shared on Indian Twitter, with users of the micro-blogging site desperately attempting to troll PM Imran for his supposed mistake.

Riaz Haq said...

#Indian cyber firm spied on #politicians, #investors worldwide. BellTroX InfoTech Services targeted #government officials in #Europe, gambling tycoons in #Bahamas, and top investors in #US, including private equity giant KKR and short seller Muddy Waters.https://reut.rs/2XOt6HX

LONDON/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A little-known Indian IT firm offered its hacking services to help clients spy on more than 10,000 email accounts over a period of seven years.

New Delhi-based BellTroX InfoTech Services targeted government officials in Europe, gambling tycoons in the Bahamas, and well-known investors in the United States including private equity giant KKR and short seller Muddy Waters, according to three former employees, outside researchers, and a trail of online evidence.

Aspects of BellTroX’s hacking spree aimed at American targets are currently under investigation by U.S. law enforcement, five people familiar with the matter told Reuters. The U.S. Department of Justice declined to comment.

Reuters does not know the identity of BellTroX’s clients. In a telephone interview, the company’s owner, Sumit Gupta, declined to disclose who had hired him and denied any wrongdoing.

Muddy Waters founder Carson Block said he was “disappointed, but not surprised, to learn that we were likely targeted for hacking by a client of BellTroX.” KKR declined to comment.

Researchers at internet watchdog group Citizen Lab, who spent more than two years mapping out the infrastructure used by the hackers, released a report here on Tuesday saying they had "high confidence" that BellTroX employees were behind the espionage campaign.

“This is one of the largest spy-for-hire operations ever exposed,” said Citizen Lab researcher John Scott-Railton.

Although they receive a fraction of the attention devoted to state-sponsored espionage groups or headline-grabbing heists, “cyber mercenary” services are widely used, he said. “Our investigation found that no sector is immune.”

A cache of data reviewed by Reuters provides insight into the operation, detailing tens of thousands of malicious messages designed to trick victims into giving up their passwords that were sent by BellTroX between 2013 and 2020. The data was supplied on condition of anonymity by online service providers used by the hackers after Reuters alerted the firms to unusual patterns of activity on their platforms.

The data is effectively a digital hit list showing who was targeted and when. Reuters validated the data by checking it against emails received by the targets.

On the list: judges in South Africa, politicians in Mexico, lawyers in France and environmental groups in the United States. These dozens of people, among the thousands targeted by BellTroX, did not respond to messages or declined comment.

Reuters was not able to establish how many of the hacking attempts were successful.

BellTroX’s Gupta was charged in a 2015 hacking case in which two U.S. private investigators admitted to paying him to hack the accounts of marketing executives. Gupta was declared a fugitive in 2017, although the U.S. Justice Department declined to comment on the current status of the case or whether an extradition request had been issued.