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Nikhil Gupta, Indian arrested over Pannun ‘plot’, can be extradited to US — Czech Constitutional Court

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New Delhi: Nikhil Gupta, the Indian national arrested by Czech authorities in connection with the murder-for-hire plot allegedly targeting Sikh separatist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, can be extradited to the US, the Czech Constitutional Court ruled Wednesday.

Minister of Justice (Czech Republic) Pavel Blazek will take the final call on the extradition.

The Czech authorities arrested Gupta 30 June 2023 on a request by the US. An indictment unsealed by the US Justice Department in November of the same year named Gupta as a part of the plot to allegedly murder Pannun, whom India has designated as a terrorist.

The Constitutional Court Wednesday rejected Gupta’s application against extradition to the US. “The complaint of a citizen of the Republic of India, against whom criminal proceedings are being conducted in the United States of America (USA), was rejected today by the Constitutional Court,” a statement on its website said.

The statement added: “The applicant is being prosecuted in the US for the crime of conspiracy to commit murder-for-hire and aiding and abetting that crime. The Constitutional Court has now confirmed the decision of the general courts on the admissibility of extradition.”

The court statement added that for Gupta, all proceedings before the “Czech courts have come to an end”.

Originally in Czech, the statement was translated using machine tools.

According to media reports, Blazek will now evaluate the Constitutional Court decision before deciding on Gupta’s extradition.

The US Justice Department, in its November 2023 indictment, claimed that Gupta conspired with others, including an agent of the government of India, to make a $100,000 deal to kill Pannun. The indictment did not name the Indian government official, referred to as “CC-1”.

The Washington Postin April 2024, reported that Vikram Yadav, a Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) officer, was the Indian official behind the plot. The paper also said the then R&AW chief Samant Goel sanctioned the operation.

The Indian Ministry of External Affairs, however, dismissed the report, saying it makes “unwarranted and unsubstantiated imputations” to claim that Indian agents were involved in the plot to kill Pannun.

The Washington Post further reported that US agents lured Gupta to travel from India to the Czech Republic’s Prague, where he was arrested. US authorities then seized his laptop and mobile phone, which allowed them to decrypt his communications with Yadav, the Washington Post reported. The material collected from Gupta in Prague formed the basis of the US Justice Department’s November indictment.

The US first brought notice of its cases against Gupta to Indian authorities in August 2023. India has publicly said a high-level inquiry is looking into the evidence shared by the US in the alleged plot to kill Pannun.

(Edited by Madhurita Goswami)


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