US prof behind EVM study deported on arrival

An American computer scientist, J Alex Halderman, who had co-authored a study titled "India's EVMs are vulnerable to fraud", was not allowed to enter the country after landing at the Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport here on Sunday evening. Airport sources said he would be deported, but offered no reason for the action.

Speaking to The Indian Express from the airport, Halderman said: "I am about to be thrown out of this country and there is no reason anyone is giving me. There is just no explanation, they are not letting me enter."

Halderman, an assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer sciences at the University of Michigan, was here to attend a technical conference in Gujarat.

In February this year, top researchers from India, US and Netherlands, had come up with a study which said that EVMs are prone to tampering. Halderman and his Indian co-author, Hari K Prasad, were part of the group.

Earlier, the Election Commission had challenged Prasad to demonstrate how EVMs could be tampered with. The EC, however, withheld access to the EVMs.

In his blog about the study, Halderman wrote: "Despite widespread reports of election irregularities and suspicions of electronic fraud, the Election Commission has never permitted security researchers to complete an independent evaluation. Hari and others in India repeatedly offered to collaborate with the Election Commission to better understand the security of the machines, but they were not permitted to complete a serious review."

He added: "Indian election authorities have repeatedly claimed that the machines are 'tamperproof,' but we demonstrated important vulnerabilities by studying a machine provided by an anonymous source. The story took a disturbing turn when my co-author, Hari Prasad, was arrested by Indian authorities demanding to know the identity of that source."

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