New Delhi: The Delhi Police on Saturday said arrested freelance journalist Rajeev Sharma was allegedly passing sensitive information about India’s border strategy, Army’s deployment and procurement, and foreign policy to Chinese intelligence agencies.
At a press conference, Special Cell DCP Sanjeev Kumar Yadav said that police are investigating what information Sharma had allegedly passed on to Chinese intelligence officers through his social media accounts and email ID.
Based on Sharma’s statement during interrogation, a Chinese woman Qing Shi and her Nepalese associate Sher Singh alias Taj Bohra were arrested on Saturday morning, police said.
“Both the Chinese woman and her associate were directors of shell companies in Delhi’s Mahipalpur area and they would export medicines to China and in return, would get huge money which they gave to their agents here,” Yadav said.
Police said that the 61-year-old journalist, who has been booked under the Official Secrets Act, had also been asked by Chinese intelligence officers to provide information related to Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.
“A secret input was recently received from an intelligence agency that Rajeev Sharma is having links with foreign intelligence officer and he has been receiving funds from his handler through illegal means…for conveying sensitive information which concerns national security and foreign relations,” police said.
Sharma was allegedly contacted by Chinese intelligence officer Michael in 2016 and the scribe shared sensitive information with him till 2018, the DCP said.
He came in contact with Michael through a social media platform and later, also visited China where lucrative offers were made, the police officer said, adding Sharma allegedly started giving sensitive defense information to Chinese intelligence.
Michael had also borne all expenses on Sharma’s visit to China, police claimed.
“During the period from 2010 to 2014, Sharma wrote a weekly column for Global Times, widely known as a mouthpiece of the Chinese government.
“Observing those columns, Michael from Kunming city of China contacted Sharma and invited him to Kunming city for an interview in a media company,” police said in a statement.
Police said that Sharma had also visited Thailand and Nepal to meet Chinese intelligence officers.
“In 2019, Sharma came in contact with another Chinese intelligence officer George and he was continuing to share Indian defense-related information,” Yadav claimed.
According to the police officer, Sharma has been in journalism for 40 years and since 2010, he was working freelance.
He received Rs 40-45 lakh in around one-and-a-half years and was getting USD 1,000 for each information, police claimed.
Sharma was writing for China’s Global Times newspaper and some Indian media organizations, Yadav said, adding that he had previously worked with the United News of India, The Tribune, Hindustan Times, and The Times of India.
The journalist had sent several documents in the form of reports to Chinese intelligence officers and got a handsome remuneration in return, police alleged.
They said that Sharma was also running a YouTube channel — ‘Rajeev Kishkindha’.
During the press conference, police said that as Sharma had an accreditation card of the Press Information Bureau (PIB), he had easy access to ministries.
“Sharma was continuously giving information to Chinese intelligence about India-China border dispute, current border problem with China, Army’s deployment and procurement, and Indian government’s border strategy,” Yadav said.
Sharma was also asked to provide inputs on issues like Indian deployment on the Bhutan-Sikkim-China tri-junction including the Doklam standoff, the pattern of India-Myanmar military cooperation, police also said.
Asked what secret information Sharma shared, the DCP said, “We are accessing his social media accounts and email ID through other agencies to find what information he has shared with Chinese intelligence.”
On being asked whether any officer of any ministry is involved, Yadav said that after accessing his social media accounts and email ID, it can be ascertained from where secrets documents have been leaked.
“When Sharma was arrested on September 14 by the Special Cell based on Indian intelligence inputs, police seized some defence classified documents from the house,” he said.
The Chinese woman, who was arrested along with her Nepalese associate, had got admission in a nursing course in 2013 and since then, she has been staying in India. Forensic analysis of seized mobile phones and laptops is being conducted to unearth the entire network and conspiracy in this case, the DCP added.
Identities and roles of other foreign nationals involved in the conspiracy are also being ascertained, he further added.