Official Secrets and techniques Act: Espionage case towards journalist Rajeev Sharma ‘false’, ‘proof planted’: Lawyer

Official Secrets Act: Espionage case against journalist Rajeev Sharma 'false', 'evidence planted': Lawyer

New Delhi: The espionage case lodged against arrested freelance journalist Rajeev Sharma under the Official Secrets Act is “false” and the “evidence was planted” by the Delhi police, his lawyer claimed on Sunday.

The Delhi Police on Saturday said Sharma, a resident of Pitampura, was allegedly passing sensitive information about India’s border strategy, Army’s deployment and procurement, and foreign policy to Chinese intelligence agencies.

He was arrested by the Special Cell of the Delhi Police in connection with a case under the Official Secrets Act as he was allegedly found in possession of defence-related classified documents.

Senior advocate Adish Aggarwala, who is representing the journalist, alleged that the police’s claim of finding incriminating evidence from his possession was “not true”.

“We are not denying that he was working for a Chinese news organisation. The only dispute is the police’s claim that they have found incriminating evidence, which is not true.

“The evidence was planted later on. On September 14, when the police took him in custody, they searched his house that night and no incriminating evidence was found. He is being framed in a false case. He has not committed any of offence,” Aggarwala told PTI.

The advocate said the police could have informed the media on the day of the arrest itself, but they did not “as nothing incriminating was found”.

“Once they (police) analysed and could not find any anything incriminating, they planted the evidence,” he further alleged.

“They are not interrogating any official from the Defence Ministry. He must have found the documents from someone. It isn’t that he printed them at his home,” he claimed.

Aggarwala also alleged that Sharma’s family was not allowed access to him, nor was any information regarding the allegations furnished to them.

“No copy of the FIR is uploaded online. Despite multiple requests, the police have not furnished a copy of the FIR. He was not given access to a lawyer when he was produced before a judge through video conferencing,” he said and termed it “illegal”.

The lawyer said the only thing the police had was that Sharma was working with a Chinese media organisation.

“Our country has not stopped business with China. A lot of people from China are working here and a lot many Indians are working there. There’s nothing wrong in that,” he said.

Sharma’s counsel has filed a bail application which is scheduled to come up for hearing on September 22 before a Delhi court. In the application, the counsel has said that there is “no risk of him running away from the process of justice”.

“The applicant has deep roots in society and is a respected senior journalist. His wife is also Associate Professor at Venkateswara College, Delhi University. Therefore, there is no risk of him running away from the process of justice.

“There is no chance of influencing any witness or tampering with any evidence. The investigation would no longer require custodial interrogation of the applicant, and he can join the investigation as and when directed,” the application stated.

It added the accused was of 61-years-old and was “suffering from an acute case of sinus problems, and requires constant treatment from a nebulizer”.

“He has also undergone two surgeries for the same. Due to the same, he stands to be high risk to COVID-19. He is also a patient of high blood pressure, and taking medication for the same for the past decade,” it said.

The journalist had sent several documents in the form of reports to Chinese intelligence officers and got a handsome remuneration in return, police alleged.