Gurpatwant Pannun ‘murder’ plot: Czech Republic Police releases first video of Nikhil Gupta being extradited to US | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Gurpatwant Pannun ‘murder’ plot: Czech Republic Police releases first video of Nikhil Gupta being extradited to US

By | Edited by Aniruddha Dhar
Jun 18, 2024 10:00 AM IST

Indian national Nikhil Gupta, 52, was extradited to the US on June 14 from the Czech Republic following his arrest in Prague last year.

Nikhil Gupta extradited to US news: The Czech Republic Police on Monday released the first visuals of Nikhil Gupta, an Indian national accused of being involved in a murder-for-hire plot against Sikh extremist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun on American soil, being extradited to the United States.

The Czech Republic police releases visuals of Nikhil Gupta being extradited to the US at Prague on June 14.
The Czech Republic police releases visuals of Nikhil Gupta being extradited to the US at Prague on June 14.

Nikhil Gupta, 52, was extradited to the US on Friday, June 14, from the Czech Republic following his arrest in Prague a year ago.

Posting a video on social media platform X (formally Twitter), the Czech Republic Police wrote, “The foreigner suspected in the United States of an assassination plot has been in the hands of the US judiciary since Friday.”

It added that Nikhil Gupta was “safely extradited from a Prague airport”, posting video images of the Indian national (with his face blurred) being escorted onto a plane.

Earlier, Czech justice minister Pavel Blazek confirmed that Nikhil Gupta has been extradited to the US.

"On the basis of my decision on (June 3), Indian citizen Nikhil Gupta, who is suspected of conspiracy to commit murder-for-hire with intent to cause death, was extradited to the US on Friday (June 14) for criminal prosecution," Pavel Blazek said in a post on X.

Nikhil Gupta was detained at the Prague airport on June 30, 2023, under extradition orders issued by the US Justice Department.

The US Justice Departmentt said Nikhil Gupta allegedly targeted in the killing
“is a vocal critic of the Indian government and leads a US-based organisation that advocates for the secession of Punjab”.

The ministry of external affairs has said it created a “high-level” inquiry committee to look into the case.

The Czech constitutional court had cleared Nikhil Gupta's extradition in May.

Nikhil Gupta pleads not guilty in US court

Meanwhile on Monday, Nikhil Gupta pleaded not guilty in the case at a federal court in New York.

He was arrested in the Czech Republic last year at the request of the US government on charges of being involved in a plot to assassinate Khalistani separatist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun in New York. Gurpatwant Pannun holds dual American and Canadian citizenship.

Gupta was produced before a federal court in New York, where he pleaded not guilty, according to his attorney, Jeffrey Chabrowe.

US federal prosecutors allege that Gupta had been working according to the directions of an unnamed Indian government official. India has, however, denied its involvement in such a case.

“This is a complex matter for both our countries," Gupta's attorney Chabrowe told news agency PTI ahead of his client’s arraignment in a federal court.

"It is extremely important that we refrain from rushing to conclusions so early in the process. Background and details will develop that may cast government allegations into an entirely new light," Chabrowe said.

"We will pursue his defence vigorously and ensure he receives full due process, regardless of outside pressures,” he added.

Federal prosecutors allege that Gupta hired a hitman to kill Pannun and paid USD 15,000 in advance. Gupta, through his attorney, has denied the charges and said that he has been "unfairly charged".

In April 2024, The Washington Post 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 MEA, however, dismissed the report, saying it makes “unwarranted and unsubstantiated imputations” to claim that Indian agents were involved in the plot to kill Pannun.

(With inputs from PTI)

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