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Nikhil Gupta: Indian accused of an ‘alleged’ murder plot of Khalistani Terrorist Pannun extradited to US

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Indian national Nikhil Gupta, who has been accused in the ‘alleged’ murder plot of Khalistani terrorist and US citizen Gurpatwant Singh Pannun on American soil, has been extradited to the United States from the Czech Republic.

The extradition was carried out on Friday (June 14) at the Prague-RuzynÄ› Airport.

Nikhil Gupta was accused by the US government last year of trying to hire an assassin to assassinate US-based Sikh separatist leader Gurpatwant Singh Pannun.

Mr Gupta was arrested by authorities in the Czech Republic last year at the request of Washington and has been jailed in Prague.

Last month, the Czech Constitutional Court rejected his petition against his extradition to the US. Jail records show he is currently being held at the Metropolitan Federal Detention Center in Brooklyn. He is expected to appear in federal court in New York on Monday. The charges against him carry up to 20 years in prison.

In November, U.S. prosecutors announced that a plot to kill Pannun had been thwarted after a sting operation led by the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Mr Gupta paid $100,000 (£79,000) in cash to a hitman to assassinate Mr Pannun, prosecutors said. The killer, they added, was an undercover federal agent. US authorities have alleged that Mr Gupta was directed by an Indian government official who was not named or charged in the indictment.

The Indian government has denied any involvement in the murder plot.

Mr. Pannun is a dual US-Canadian citizen living in New York. He is the general counsel of Sikhs for Justice, a US-based Khalistani organization that supports the broader Khalistan movement, which calls for an independent homeland for Sikhs who make up about 2 percent of India’s population.

Mr Pannun was designated a terrorist by the Indian government in 2020. He was also associated with another Khalistani Terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar, who was gunned down in Canada in his car last year.

The killing led to a deterioration in India-Canada ties after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau claimed there were “credible allegations” that Delhi was involved. India has denied the allegations.

In November, the White House said it had raised the alleged assassination plot against Mr. Pannun with India to the highest level.

Gupta was arrested in Prague last June under a bilateral extradition treaty between the U.S. and the Czech Republic. He denied any involvement in the case.

If convicted, he could face up to 20 years in prison. Pannun advocates for the creation of a sovereign Sikh state and is considered a terrorist by the Indian government.

Gupta’s Czech attorney, Petr Slepička, previously told The Associated Press that he was planning to file a constitutional complain to the country’s highest legal authority and ask the minister not to allow the extradition.

“It’s a political case,” he said.

The indictment says Gupta contacted a criminal associate to help find a hitman to carry out the killing, but that person happened to be a confidential source working with the DEA. The confidential source then introduced Gupta to a purported hitman, who was actually a DEA agent, it said.

The charges were the second major recent accusation of complicity of Indian government officials in attempts to kill Sikh separatist figures living in North America.

In September, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said there were credible allegations that the Indian government had links to the assassination in that country of Sikh activist Hardeep Singh Nijjar. India rejected the accusation as absurd.

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