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Nikhil Gupta: India Man Accused of US Murder Plot Appeals to Court

An Indian man accused of conspiring to kill a US-based Sikh separatist leader has asked India’s top court to intervene in his case.

Nikhil Gupta has been charged by the US government with trying to hire a hitman to assassinate Gurpatwant Singh Pannun.

Mr Gupta is in jail in Prague and has asked the Indian Supreme Court to aid his release and help him get a fair trial.

His lawyer Rohini Musa has alleged that Mr Gupta has been detained illegally.

She also claimed that the process to extradite Mr Gupta to the US had started.

“The extradition order has been passed against him. But the copy of the order has not been furnished to us,” Ms Musa, who represents Mr Gupta’s family, told the BBC.

Adam Wenig, spokesperson for the Municipal Court in Prague, confirmed to the BBC that the court “did not find any reasons that would prevent [Mr Gupta’s] extradition”.

“The admissibility of the extradition of the requested person [Nikhil Gupta] was decided on 23 November 2023, with the simultaneous rejection of his request for release from custody,” he told the BBC.

He added that Mr Gupta has appealed against the verdict in a higher court.

Mr Gupta’s family has also asked for an Indian advocate to represent him in the Czech Republic and the US.

In November, US prosecutors charged Mr Gupta with a plot to kill at least four Sikh separatists in North America, including Mr Pannun.

They said that Mr Gupta had paid $100,000 (£79,000) in cash to a hitman to assassinate Mr Pannun, a dual US-Canadian citizen, in New York.

But the hitman was actually an undercover federal agent, prosecutors said.

He was allegedly directed by an Indian government official who was not named or charged in the indictment.

The charges against Mr Gupta carry up to 20 years in prison.

India has designated Mr Pannun a terrorist, an allegation he denies, claiming to be an activist who believes in the Khalistan movement.

Mr Gupta’s petition alleges that he was arrested by “self-claimed US agents” without any arrest warrant and has not been given a fair trial till now.

It also claims that he has been under solitary confinement where his fundamental rights have been violated and that he was forced to consume beef and pork during his detention, which goes against his religious beliefs.

The petition says that he has been politically persecuted and he is wrongly accused of conspiring with the Indian government to kill an American citizen in the US where “he has no connections or business”.

Source : BBC