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Leakage of sensitive information to Chinese Intelligence Officials: Delhi HC sends Rajeev Sharma to judicial custody

Delhi HC sends Rajeev Sharma to judicial custody

The Delhi High Court on Wednesday (July 14, 2021) sent Rajeev Sharma to judicial custody for 14 days at the request of the Enforcement Directorate (ED). 

Rajeev Sharma, a Delhi-based freelance journalist was arrested earlier this month in connection with a money-laundering probe linked to alleged leakage and supply of sensitive information to Chinese Intelligence Officers. 

The Electorate Directorate while urging that Rajeev Sharma be sent to remand submitted that unearthing the end-use of funds involved in the instant case would assist in ascertaining the exact quantum of the proceeds of crime, determining the role of various other persons and aides who facilitated the offense of money laundering in the instant case. 

Additional Sessions Judge Dharmendra Rana of the Patiala House Court ordered him to be sent to remand and said, “Considering the totality of circumstances, I am of the considered opinion that the prosecution has set out a case for further custodial interrogation of the accused.”

Rajeev Sharma was represented by Advocate Amish Aggarwala, Advocate Aditya Singh Jakhar, and Advocate Karan Ahuja. 

BACKGROUND:

Sharma was taken into ED custody on July 1, 2021, under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). He was produced before a local court in Delhi on July 2, which granted the ED seven days custody. 

The agency said its probe has revealed that 62-year-old Sharma “leaked confidential and sensitive information to Chinese intelligence officers, in exchange for remuneration, thereby compromising the security and national interest of India.” 

“It was further revealed that cash for remuneration of Sharma and other unknown persons was being generated through a ‘hawala’ by Mahipalpur-based (an area in Delhi) shell companies that were run by Chinese nationals namely Zhang Cheng alias Suraj, Zhang Lixia alias Usha, and Quing Shi, along with a Nepalese national, Sher Singh alias Raj Bohara,” it alleged. 

Apart from cash, huge transactions were made with various Chinese companies and some other trading companies in India which are being examined, the ED said. 

“These Chinese companies were acting as a conduit for the Chinese intelligence agencies to provide remuneration for persons like Sharma who indulged in criminal activities,” it said. “Rajeev Sharma also received money through benami bank accounts in order to conceal his involvement in criminal activities,” the agency claimed.

The ED case is based on a Delhi Police FIR filed under the Official Secrets Act (OSA) and various sections of the IPC against Sharma last year. He was arrested by the Delhi Police Special Cell on September 14 last year and was charged with passing on information about the Indian Army’s deployment and the country’s border strategy to Chinese intelligence. 

The journalist was given bail by the Delhi High Court in December 2020, after he sought statutory bail on the ground that the chargesheet was not filed within 60 days of his arrest. 

Sharma used to run a YouTube Channel called ‘Rajeev Kishkindha’, which has thousands of followers. On the day of his arrest, he uploaded two videos. One of the videos claimed that China would still do ‘mischief’ despite talks with India and border tensions. The other video deplored the state of journalism in the country. 

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