The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has arrested a Canadian resident of Indian origin in connection with an espionage case. A freelance journalist, Vivek Raghuvanshi, and a former Navy Commander, Ashish Pathak, were arrested in the case in May.
The accused has been identified as Rahul Gangal. His name cropped up during the probe into the case, in which sensitive defence-related documents were allegedly collected and passed on to foreign agencies. The agency tracked Mr. Gangal to Canada.
Acting on a tip-off that he would come to India on August 19, a surveillance was mounted. He was arrested in Delhi on Monday. The CBI has secured a four-day remand from a special court.
“Searches conducted on the premises of the accused led to seizure of incriminating documents and digital devices. Scrutiny of these documents and devices allegedly revealed the possession and sharing of incriminating secret document by him with the other accused, a journalist,” said a CBI official.
The CBI has found that Mr. Gangal became a permanent resident of Canada in 2019. His wife and child are Canadian citizens. As mentioned in his social media profile, the accused has completed MBA from a reputed Delhi-based institute. He has been working for a Germany-based company since 2013 and was currently operating from Toronto. Earlier, while in Delhi, he was overseeing its aerospace and defence function. “Further investigation into his activities is under way,” said the official.
The agency had registered the case on December 9, 2022. In July, a chargesheet was filed against Mr. Raghuvanshi Mr. Pathak. It is alleged that the journalist received about ₹3 crore from various foreign sources over a period of time.
The CBI accused Mr. Raghuvanshi of illegally collecting details of defence projects of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and their progress. He is also accused of accessing and sharing with foreign intelligence agencies information about the future procurement to be made for the Indian armed forces, which revealed the country’s strategic preparedness; classified communications linked to national security; and details about the strategic and diplomatic talks of India with its friendly countries.
After registering the first information report, the agency had searched 15 locations in and around Delhi and Rajasthan’s Jaipur, and seized 48 electronic devices, including laptops, tablets, mobile phones hard disks and pen drives belonging to Mr. Raghuvanshi and others linked to him.
“...A number of incriminating documents related to Indian defence establishments have also been seized. The data stored in cloud-based accounts/emails/social media accounts belonging to the accused and others have also been recovered by the digital forensic experts of the CBI...the accused and his associate, a former Navy commander currently working with a private firm, were in possession of classified secret document related to Indian defence establishments,” the agency had said.
According to the CBI, scrutiny of the seized digital devices revealed that the journalist was allegedly gathering classified information about India’s defence procurement from various sources and was in touch with several foreign entities, agents and persons. The accused had entered into agreements with multiple foreign entities for information sharing.