Pannun murder plot accused Nikhil Gupta extradited to US: Report

The 52-year-old will likely be produced before a federal court in New York on Monday

India Sikh Assassination Plot Sikh separatist leader Gurpatwant Singh Pannun | PTI

Nikhil Gupta, the Indian national who faces charges of plotting to murder Sikha separatist leader Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, has been extradited to the US from the Czech Republic, according to reports.

Gupta, 52, is listed on the Bureau of Prisons website as being detained in the Metropolitan Detention Centre in Brooklyn. He will likely be produced before a federal court in New York on Monday.

He was arrested by the Czech police at the request of the US last year, and a Czech court cleared his extradition last month. Though Gupta had petitioned against his extradition, his plea was rejected by the court.

He was reportedly deported over the weekend, according to The Washington Post, which first reported the news. Extradited defendants are to be produced in court within a day of their arrival in the country.

Gupta has been charged with murder-for-hire in connection with his participation in a foiled plot to assassinate a US citizen in New York City, according to an indictment. 

According to prosecutors, a senior Indian government intelligence employee ordered the assassination of Pannun in May and hired Gupta to arrange the hit. U.S. authorities broke up the plot last June before it could be carried out. Gupta was reportedly paid  USD 15,000 in advance. The indictment did not name who the Indian government official was. 

"Beginning in or about early May 2023, in a series of telephonic and electronic communications between CC-1 (Indian official) and Gupta over encrypted applications, CC-1 asked Gupta to arrange the murder of the victim in exchange for CC-1's assistance in securing the dismissal of a criminal case against Gupta in India. Gupta agreed to orchestrate the assassination. In addition to their electronic communications, Gupta also met CC-1 in person in New Delhi in furtherance of the plot," the indictment said.

India has denied its involvement in the Pannun murder plot and has constituted a probe committee to investigate the US's allegations.  

Gupta through his attorney has denied the charges and has said that he has been "unfairly charged". Gupta's attorney, Rohini Musa, wrote in a petition to the Indian Supreme Court that her client is being unfairly prosecuted, saying there is nothing on record to link the Petitioner to the massive alleged plot to assassinate the alleged victim, The Washington Post said.

Musa complained that Gupta received adverse legal advice from a Czech government-appointed attorney under the undue influence of  U.S. Agencies during the initial phase of his detention. She said India and the United States were going back and forth to blame each other for their foreign policy, the daily reported. 

Gupta's extradition comes ahead of the New Delhi visit of US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan for the annual ICET dialogue. The issue is expected to be raised by Sullivan before his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval.


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