On Saturday, Delhi Police arrested freelance journalist Rajeev Sharma was passing sensitive information about India's defence and strategic information to Chinese intelligence.
Who is Rajeev Sharma and why was he arrested?
According to reports, Rajeev Sharma was writing on defence-related issues for some Indian media organisations, as well as China's Global Times. He was contacted by Chinese Intelligence agents in 2016. Sharma was also in contact with some Chinese intelligence officer. The freelance journalist got Rs 40 lakh in one-and-a-half years and he was getting USD 1,000 for each information.
Speaking to reporters, Sanjeev Kumar Yadav, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Special Cell of Delhi Police, said, "Journalist Rajeev Sharma was involved in passing sensitive defence and strategic information to Chinese intelligence officers from 2016 to 2018. He used to meet them at several locations in different countries." Divulging further details, he said transactions of Rs 40-45 lakh have taken place in the last one year.
A Chinese woman and her Nepalese associate had been paying Sharma a hefty amount for sensitive information. Delhi Police had received a secret input about Sharma providing confidential documents to Chinese intelligence. During the search of his house a laptop, some confidential documents relating to the Indian Defence Department, among other incriminating documents were recovered and seized. The police claimed shell companies had been set up overseas to route money to Sharma.
"His two associates--a Chinese woman and Nepali man-- have a company in Mahipalpur from where they exported medicines to China. Money sent from China was given to agents here. As per probe, transactions of Rs 40-45 lakh have taken place in last one year," Kumar said.
"Rajeev Sharma has almost 40 years of experience as a journalist. In additional to his experience as a journalist in several news organisations in India, he has written articles for Chinese media agency Global Times as a freelance journalist," added Kumar.
What is Rajeev Sharma charged with?
Rajeev Sharma was arrested by the Special Cell of the Delhi Police under the Official Secrets Act. The Official Secrets Act makes spying, sharing ‘secret’ information, unauthorised use of uniforms, withholding information, interference with the armed forces in prohibited/restricted areas, among others, punishable offences. If guilty, a person may get up to 14 years’ imprisonment, a fine, or both. Rajeev Sharma was produced before the court on September 15, which sent him to six-day police custody.