NEW DELHI: Police in India’s capital city have arrested a local freelance journalist on allegations he was passing “sensitive information” to Chinese intelligence officers.
In a statement on Saturday, the Delhi Police said 61-year-old Rajeev Sharma was arrested earlier this week and officers had seized some confidential documents related to the Indian defence department from the journalist’s residence.
One Chinese woman and her Nepalese partner were also arrested for allegedly supplying Sharma with “huge amounts of money” for “conveying information to Chinese intelligence.”
The Chinese Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment outside regular business hours.
Reuters could not immediately reach any of the three individuals, who are under arrest, or their lawyers.
“On interrogation, Rajeev Sharma has disclosed his involvement in the procurement of secret/sensitive information and further conveying the same to his Chinese handlers,” Delhi’s Deputy Commissioner of Police Sanjeev Kumar Yadav said in the statement.
The arrest comes amid heightened tensions between India and China at their border in the Himalayan region of Ladakh.
The relationship between the neighbours has worsened since August 2019, when India revoked the limited autonomy of disputed Kashmir and separated Ladakh region from it. Both areas are under federal rule now.
It followed a vow by Indian Home Minister Amit Shah to take control of Aksai Chin, part of divided Kashmir, administered by China.
In June this year, tensions between armies of both sides resulted in a border clash in which India says 20 of its troops were killed. It’s not clear if the Chinese also suffered losses.
Journalist received over $40,000 for ‘spying’
The police said Sharma was tasked with providing information on India-China boundary issues and other matters in recent years.
It added that between January 2019 and September 2020, Sharma received more than three million Indian rupees ($40,799) from one of his handlers.
India has in recent months banned several Chinese apps and made it tougher for Chinese companies to make investments.