Environment

Indian Police Helped Scotland Yard Hack Into Emails of Greenpeace and Other Activists, Says Report

A British police intelligence unit allegedly relied on an Indian counterpart, who in turn used hackers to obtain the email ID passwords of environmental campaigners and journalists.

An Indian police officer or unit may have helped British police gain illegal access to various email accounts. Credit: Reuters

An Indian police officer or unit may have helped British police gain illegal access to various email accounts. Credit: Reuters

New Delhi: Indian police officers may have helped a secretive Scotland Yard police unit hack into the email accounts of hundreds of British political campaigners and journalists according to a report published by The Guardian on Tuesday.

These allegations come from an anonymous individual who worked for the Metropolitan police service’s intelligence unit and sent a letter detailing Scotland Yard’s hacking efforts to UK Green party peer Jenny Jones. The Guardian says that this letter was then passed onto the Independent Police Complaints Commission, a police watchdog, which is currently investigating these allegations.

The letter states that the British police intelligence unit took the help of “Indian police”, who in turn used hackers “to illegally obtain the passwords of the email accounts of the campaigners, and some reporter and press photographers”.

According to The Guardian, the letter listed the passwords of a number of environmental campaigners as well four of whom work for Greenpeace. “Several [campaigners] confirmed they matched the ones they had used to open their emails,” the report said.

The whistleblower’s letter points out that the Scotland Yard unit had for many years illegally accessed the email accounts of activists and that this was largely due to help from “counterparts in India”

“For a number of years the unit had been illegally accessing the email accounts of activists.  This has largely been accomplished because of the contact that one of the officers had developed with counterparts in India who in turn were using hackers to obtain email passwords,”the letter reportedly said.

Greenpeace troubles in India

Over the last year, environmental advocacy organisations such as Greenpeace have come under the scanner of the Modi government. In 2015, the Centre suspended the NGO’s licence under the Foreign Contributions Regulations Act, froze the organisation’s bank accounts and then finally cancelled Greenpeace’s registration in India for allegedly working against India’s economic progress.

Greenpeace’s campaign against the domestic coal industry increased in intensity in 2015. The decision to cancel Greenpeace’s license however came a few months after the Indian government curtailed the international travel of Greenpeace India campaigner Priya Pillai in January 2015.

It is unclear at the moment whether any Greenpeace India campaigners were targeted by the Scotland Yard.