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Khalistani leader Pannun case: Nikhil Gupta extradited to USA will now face charges
First visual of arrested Indian-origin man Nikhil Gupta. Photo Courtesy: Policie CR X page

Khalistani leader Pannun case: Nikhil Gupta extradited to USA will now face charges

| @indiablooms | 18 Jun 2024, 09:45 am

Indian-origin person Nikhil Gupta, 53, is accused of being involved in the 'murder-for-hire plot' against Khalistani separatist leader Gurpatwant Singh Pannun on American soil and will now face charges in the USA, officials said.

Gupta was arrested and detained in the Czech Republic on June 30, 2023, and extradited pursuant to the bilateral extradition treaty between the United States and the Czech Republic.

Gupta arrived in the United States on June 14 and was presented on the charges today.

“This extradition makes clear that the Justice Department will not tolerate attempts to silence or harm American citizens,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “Nikhil Gupta will now face justice in an American courtroom for his involvement in an alleged plot, directed by an employee of the Indian government, to target and assassinate a U.S. citizen for his support of the Sikh separatist movement in India. I am grateful to the Department’s agents who foiled this assassination plot and to our Czech partners for their assistance in this arrest and extradition.”

“This murder-for-hire plot — allegedly orchestrated by an Indian government employee to kill a U.S. citizen in New York City — was a brazen attempt to silence a political activist for exercising a quintessential American right: his freedom of speech,” said Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco. “The extradition of the defendant is a vital step toward justice, and I am grateful to our Czech partners for their assistance in this matter. We will continue working relentlessly to identify, disrupt, and hold accountable those who seek to harm American citizens here or abroad.”

“This defendant has been extradited for his alleged role in a plot to assassinate a U.S. citizen on American soil,” said Director Christopher Wray of the FBI. “The FBI will not tolerate attempts by foreign nationals, or anyone else for that matter, to repress constitutionally-protected freedoms in the United States. We will continue to work with our partners at home and abroad to protect our citizens and these sacred rights.”

“As alleged, the defendant conspired from India with an Indian government employee to in an unsuccessful assassination plot, right here in New York City, against a U.S. citizen of Indian origin,” said U.S. Attorney Damian Williams for the Southern District of New York. “Today’s extradition makes clear our unwavering resolve to investigate, thwart, and prosecute those who seek to harm and silence U.S. citizens here and elsewhere. We thank our Czech government counterparts for their close cooperation in this extradition.”

Also read: Indian national Nikhil Gupta, accused in Pannun killing plot, extradited to USA: Reports

“Last year, the DEA uncovered an assassination plot orchestrated by an Indian government employee and Nikhil Gupta, an international narcotics trafficker. Gupta is alleged to have orchestrated a dangerous plot to murder a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil. DEA’s number one priority is always the health and safety of the American people,” said DEA Administrator Anne Milgram. “This extradition is the result of the hard work and commitment of the DEA New York Division’s Drug Enforcement Task Force, which is comprised of DEA, the New York State Police, and the New York City Police Department. This case is also a testament to the partnerships DEA has built with our law enforcement partners around the globe, like the Czech Republic’s National Drug Headquarters, as well as our federal law enforcement partners here at home.”

According to court documents, last year, an Indian government employee (CC-1) worked together with Gupta and others in India and elsewhere to direct an assassination plot against an attorney and political activist, who is a U.S. citizen of Indian origin, on U.S. soil.

Gupta is an Indian national who resides in India, is an associate of CC-1, and has described his involvement in international narcotics and weapons trafficking in his communications with CC-1 and others. CC-1 is an Indian government agency employee who has variously described himself as a “senior field officer” with responsibilities in “security management” and “intelligence” and has referenced previously serving in India’s Central Reserve Police Force and receiving “officer [] training” in “battle craft” and “weapons.” CC-1 directed the assassination plot from India.

In or about May 2023, CC-1 recruited Gupta to orchestrate the assassination of the victim in the U.S.

Who is Gurpatwant Singh Pannun?

Pannun works as the general counsel for the New York-based Sikhs for Justice.

The group seeks to carve out an independent Sikh state from Punjab named Khalistan.

India designated Pannun as a terrorist in 2020.

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