The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Tuesday conducted searches at 12 locations in connection with an espionage case alleging that a freelance defence journalist gained illegal access to national security-related information which was shared with foreign intelligence agencies.
The accused has been identified as Vivek Raghuvanshi. He was also working with an international defence news website as its India correspondent. “The searches were carried out in Delhi, Noida, Gurugram and Jaipur,” a CBI official said, adding that a provision of the Official Secrets Act had also been invoked in the case registered on December 9, 2022.
Mr. Raghuvanshi has been accused of being involved in illegal collection of sensitive information, including minute details of projects of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and their progress.
Sensitive details about the future procurement of the Indian armed forces, which reveal the strategic preparedness of the country, classified communications and information relating to national security, and details of the strategic and diplomatic talks of India with its friendly countries were accessed by the accused and shared with the foreign intelligence agencies.
“During investigation, certain documents containing sensitive information were recovered from the possession of the accused,” the agency said in a statement.
In September 2020, the Delhi Police arrested another freelance journalist, Rajeev Sharma, on the allegation that he supplied confidential information to Chinese intelligence officials in lieu of remuneration. In July 2021, the Enforcement Directorate arrested him under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.
“The cash for remuneration of Rajeev Sharma and other unknown persons was being generated through ‘hawala’ means by some Mahipalpur-based shell companies run by Chinese nationals named Zhang Cheng alias Suraj, Zhang Lixia alias Usha and Quing Shi along with a Nepalese national, Sher Singh aka Raj Bohara,” an ED official had then said.
The ED also attached a property worth ₹48.21 lakh of Mr. Sharma in January last year.