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Chinese intel paid arrested Indian journalist for information, says Delhi Police
New Delhi, September 19, 2020
The Special Cell of the Delhi Police have arrested 61-year-old Indian freelance journalist Rajeev Sharma, allegedly found working for Chinese intelligence. During a search of his house in Pitampura, New Delhi, one laptop, some confidential documents related to Indian Defence and some other incriminating papers were reportedly seized.
"During his police remand, a Chinese woman Qing Shi and her Nepalese partner Sher Singh alias Raj Bohra have also been arrested. They were found supplying the arrested journo with huge amounts of money routed through hawala channels for conveying sensitive information to Chinese Intelligence," Sanjeev Yadav, DCP Special Cell, said.
A few days back, an input was received from an intelligence agency that Rajeev Sharma, a resident of St. Xavier Apartment, Pitampura, New Delhi, had links with a foreign intelligence officer and has been receiving funds from his handler through illegal means and Western Union money transfer for conveying sensitive information about national security and foreign relations.
A case under section 3/4/5 of the Official Secrets Act was registered on September 13. Thereafter, Rajeev Sharma was arrested on September 14 and a warrant was obtained for searching his residential premises by the Delhi Police.
"On interrogation, Rajeev Sharma disclosed his involvement in the procurement of secret and sensitive information and conveying the same to his Chinese handlers Michael and George, based in Kunming, China, through different digital channels. He further disclosed that he was about to send these recovered secret documents to his handlers," Sanjeev Yadav said.
Police said that, in the past also, Sharma had sent several documents in the form of reports to his handlers and got a handsome amount of money from them.
According to the police, during 2010-2014 he wrote a weekly column for 'Global Times,' known to be a mouthpiece of the Chinese government. Reading these columns, a Chinese intelligence agent Michael from Kunming city of China contacted Rajeev Sharma through his LinkedIn account and invited him to Kunming for an interview with a Chinese media company. The trip was funded by Michael. During the meeting, Michael and his junior Xou asked Rajeev Sharma to provide inputs on various aspects of India-China relations.
Between 2016 and 2018, Rajeev Sharma was in contact with Michael and Xou. He was tasked to provide information on issues like Indian deployment at the Bhutan-Sikkim-China tri-junction including Doklam, the pattern of India-Myanmar military cooperation, India-China boundary issue etc., the police said.
Subsequently, Sharma had meetings with Michael and Xou in Laos and Maldives once each and gave briefings on these topics. Besides these visits, he was also in contact with Michael and Xou through e-mail and social media, the police said.
According to the Delhi Police, in January 2019, Sharma came in contact with another Kunming-based Chinese man George. He visited Kunming via Kathmandu and met George, who was introduced as a General Manager of a Chinese media company. During the meeting, George asked Rajeev Sharma to write about Dalai Lama-related issues.
For this, Sharma was offered 500 USD per article. George told Sharma that they will send him the money through his company's sister concern based in Mahipalpur, Delhi and being operated by a Chinese woman Qing.
According to the police, Sharma received more than Rs 30 lakh from George in about 10 instalments from January 2019 to September 2020 for the information provided by him. He had further meetings with George in Malaysia and again in Kunming.
During investigation, it was revealed that shell companies were being operated by foreign intelligence agents to transfer funds to Sharma. It was revealed that Chinese nationals Jhang Chang and his wife Chang-li-lia were running the companies MZ Pharmacy and MZ Malls, under the fake names Suraj and Usha. They are both presently in China and on their behalf, another Chinese woman Qing Shi and one Raj Bohra, a Nepali national (both directors of MZ Pharmacy) were operating the business from Mahipalpur.
"Both, Qing Shi (age 30 years) and Sher Singh alias Raj Bohra (age 30 years), have also been arrested. Further investigation with respect to the Chinese shell companies based in Mahipalpur is in progress," said the officer.
A forensic analysis of the seized mobile phones and laptops is being conducted to unearth the entire network and conspiracy in this case. The identities and roles of other foreign nationals involved in the conspiracy are also being ascertained, he added.