Espionage case: Judicial custody of journalist Rajeev Sharma extended till October 25
New Delhi, October 12, 2020
A Delhi court has extended the judicial custody of freelance journalist Rajeev Sharma, arrested under the Official Secrets Act (OSA) for allegedly passing on secret information to the Chinese intelligence, till October 25, his counsel said on Monday.
The 61-year-old journalist was produced before the court on Sunday at the end of his 14-day judicial custody, following which it was extended.
Sharma's counsel Adish C. Aggarwala said that the legal team was not informed about his production and even the remand application was not supplied to them.
On September 14, Delhi Police Special Cell had arrested Sharma for allegedly working for Chinese intelligence. During the house-search, a laptop, some confidential documents related to Indian defence and incriminating papers were seized, said the police.
On September 29, the court had dismissed his bail application and noted that the preliminary electronic evidence collected by the investigating agency pointed towards involvement of the accused in commission of offence under the Officials Secrets Act.
"If a journalist, who is an important brick in the fourth pillar of democracy, decides to act with the intention to destabilise and negatively impact the sustainability and survival of democracy, it would be darkest day in the free press movement," the court had said.
The present case was registered on the basis of secret inputs received from intelligence agencies about links of the accused with foreign intelligence officers and receiving funds from foreign handlers for conveying sensitive information on national security and foreign relations.
Pursuant to his arrest, Chinese woman Qing Shi and her Nepalese partner Sher Singh alias Raj Bohra were also arrested as they were found supplying Sharma with huge amounts of money, routed through hawala channels, for conveying sensitive information to Chinese intelligence.
According to the police, an input was received from an intelligence agency that Sharma 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 (possession of any sketch, plan, model, article, note, document or information, which relates to munitions of war), 4 (Communications with foreign agents) and 5 (Wrongful communication of information) of the Official Secrets Act was registered on September 13 and Sharma arrested the next day.
On interrogation,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, said the police.