Nikhil Gupta, accused of trying to kill Sikh separatist leader Pannun, closer to being extradited to US : The Tribune India

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Nikhil Gupta, accused of trying to kill Sikh separatist leader Pannun, closer to being extradited to US

Czech constitutional court rejects Gupta’s plea; Czech Justice Minister to take final call

Nikhil Gupta, accused of trying to kill Sikh separatist leader Pannun, closer to being extradited to US

Gurpatwant Singh Pannun. File photo

Tribune News Service


New Delhi, May 23

The Constitutional Court of the Czech Republic has okayed the extradition of Nikhil Gupta to the US, over an alleged plot to assassinate an US-based Sikh separatist leader Gurpatwant Singh Pannun.

Gupta is in jail in Prague since June last year following a detention done at the request of the US. A final decision on his extradition will be taken by Czech Justice Minister Pavel Blazek.

Gupta’s please against extradition was dismissed by the Czech court – based at Prague. Gupta has been charged by the US government with trying to hire a hitman to assassinate Pannun.

The court dismissed Gupta’s plea challenge rulings of the Municipal Court in Prague dated November 23, 2023, and the High Court in Prague dated January 8, 2024. Both had okayed the admissibility of the US extradition request.

Gupta had contested the decision of the lower courts, alleging political motives. The constitutional court held that the lower courts meticulously reviewed all extradition documents submitted by the US government, along with additional information provided by the US in response to Gupta’s objections.

Four months ago, in January, the constitutional court, had made an interim decision to suspend the lower courts’ rulings.

In November 2023, US prosecutors charged Gupta with a plot to kill at least four Sikh separatists in America, including Pannun.

The US alleges that Gupta had paid $100,000 (approximately Rs 80 lakh) in cash to a hitman to assassinate Pannun, who hold dual citizenship of the US and Canada.

The hitman, Gupta contacted was an undercover agent of a US agency. The US says, Gupta was allegedly directed by an Indian government official who was not named or charged.

Indian Union Home Ministry has designated Pannun — who heads Sikhs for Justice — as a terrorist for his association with the movement for Khalistan.

In the past, the White House raised the alleged assassination plot with India at the senior levels. Indian officials distanced themselves from the plot, saying such actions were against the government policy.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar while replying to questions in Rajya Sabha in December said certain inputs were given to us by the US as part of the security cooperation, and those inputs were of concern to us because they related to the nexus of organised crime, trafficking and other matters.

“It was decided to institute an enquiry into the matter,” Jaishankar had said.

In January, the Supreme Court of India rejected a plea from Gupta that asked it to aid his release and help him get a fair trial. In his petition, Gupta had claimed that he was not being given a fair trial.

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