Indian National Accused in Plot to Kill Khalistani Terrorist Pannun Extradited to US from Czech Republic
Indian National Accused in Plot to Kill Khalistani Terrorist Pannun Extradited to US from Czech Republic

Washington, DC: Nikhil Gupta, an Indian national accused in an alleged plot to assassinate India-designated pro-Khalistani terrorist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun in New York City, has been extradited from the Czech Republic to the US to face trial.

According to a spokesperson from the US District Court, Gupta (52) is set to appear in a lower Manhattan courthouse on Monday to answer federal murder-for-hire charges, as reported by American broadcasters.

The US Justice Department has accused Gupta of being associated with the Indian government and collaborating with others to orchestrate the assassination of Pannun in New York City.

Last November, the US Justice Department announced charges against Gupta following his arrest in June 2023 in the Czech Republic, stating that he would be extradited to New York.

Pannun, an India-designated terrorist, holds citizenship in both the US and Canada.

In an earlier statement in November, the US Justice Department unsealed an indictment against an Indian national for their alleged involvement in a failed plot to murder a US-based leader of the Sikh Separatist Movement in New York City.

The Justice Department alleged that an Indian government employee (referred to as CC-1), unnamed in the indictment filed in federal court in Manhattan, recruited Nikhil Gupta to hire a hitman to carry out the assassination. The plot was thwarted by US authorities, according to prosecutors.

The indictment further alleges that last year, an Indian government employee, working with others including Gupta, directed a plot to assassinate a political activist of Indian origin residing in New York City. The indictment describes Gupta as an associate of CC-1, citing his involvement in international narcotics and weapons trafficking as communicated with CC-1.

According to the indictment, CC-1 directed the assassination plot from India. Under CC-1's instruction, Gupta allegedly contacted an individual he believed to be a criminal associate, who was actually a confidential source cooperating with the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

The source introduced Gupta to an undercover DEA officer posing as a hitman. Gupta allegedly offered the purported hitman $100,000 to carry out the murder of the separatist leader, the Justice Department asserted.

The charges in the indictment are allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty, the Justice Department noted in a release.

Last November, India formed a high-level inquiry committee to address the security concerns raised by the US government.

The Ministry of External Affairs stated that India takes such inputs seriously as they impact national security interests, and relevant departments were already investigating the matter.

In December last year, US Principal Deputy National Security Advisor Jon Finer acknowledged India's establishment of a Committee of Enquiry to investigate the alleged plot to kill Pannun in the US.

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