CBI arrests freelance defence journalist, former Navy officer on espionage charge

Freelance defence journalist Vivek Raghuvanshi was working with an international defence news website as its India correspondent

May 17, 2023 12:54 pm | Updated May 18, 2023 07:45 am IST - NEW DELHI

Image for representation purpose only. File

Image for representation purpose only. File | Photo Credit: The Hindu

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has arrested freelance defence journalist Vivek Raghuvanshi and former Navy commander Ashish Pathak in an alleged espionage case.

The journalist has been accused of illegally collecting minute-sensitive information on projects of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and their progress.

Sensitive details about the future procurement of the Indian armed forces, the country’s strategic preparedness, classified communications related to national security, and information about the strategic and diplomatic talks of India with its friendly countries were also accessed by the accused and shared with foreign Intelligence agencies, according to the CBI.

48 electronic devices seized

During the searches at 15 locations in and around Delhi and Rajasthan’s Jaipur, the agency has seized 48 electronic devices, including laptops, tablets, mobile phones hard disks and pen drive, belonging to Mr. Raghuvanshi and others associated with 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,” said the CBI statement.

‘In touch with foreign entities’

The scrutiny of devices seized so far has revealed that the accused was gathering confidential information about India’s defence procurement from different sources and was in contact with several foreign entities, agents and persons. He had entered into contracts or agreements with multiple foreign entities for sharing of confidential information.

The agency has alleged that Mr. Raghuvanshi received about ₹3 crore from foreign sources

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