NEW DELHI: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Saturday has arrested freelance journalist Rajeev Sharma, associated with left-wing website ‘The Quint’ for supplying confidential and sensitive information to Chinese intelligence officers in exchange for money.
A statement issued by ED said that Sharma was arrested on July 1 under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). He was later present before the court and sent to ED custody for 7 days for investigation.
Rajeev Sharma was earlier arrested by Delhi police on September 14, 2020 in connection with a case under the Official Secrets Act after classified defence documents were found with him. The ED statement said that it had initiated an investigation based on the FIR and charge sheet filed by Delhi Police against Rajeev Sharma under the provisions of the IPC 1860 and the Official Secrets Act, 1923.
“Sharma has also worked with United News of India, The Tribune, Free Press Journal, Saakaal and others as a journalist. As a journalist, Rajeev Sharma was covering defence and foreign affairs for around two decades. He had written several columns for Chinese newspaper Global Times, the mouthpiece of the Communist Party of China for the last several years. He was also writing columns for left-wing publications such as The Quint, DailyO etc”.
In investigation, it was revealed that Rajeev Sharma had supplied confidential and sensitive information to Chinese intelligence officers, in exchange for payment, thereby compromising the security and national interests of India.
The probe had further revealed that cash for payments to Sharma and other unknown persons was being generated through hawala means by Mahipalpur based shell companies that were run by Chinese nationals namely Zhang Cheng alias Suraj, Zhang Lixia alias Usha and Quing Shi along with a Nepali national Sher Singh alias Raj Bohara.
ED states that apart from cash, huge transactions were made with various Chinese companies and some other trading companies in India which are being examined. These Chinese companies were acting as a conduit for the Chinese Intelligence agencies to provide remuneration for persons like Rajeev Sharma indulged in espionage on behalf of China. ED also stated that Rajeev Sharma had also received money through benami bank accounts.