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Indian accused in Khalistani terrorist's murder pleads not guilty in US court, first visuals emerge

Indian national Nikhil Gupta pleaded not guilty in a US court to charges of plotting to assassinate Khalistani terrorist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun on American soil. Gupta was extradited to the US from the Czech Republic last week.

Indian accused in Khalistani terrorist's murder pleads not guilty in US court, first visuals emerge gcw
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First Published Jun 18, 2024, 8:38 AM IST

Nikhil Gupta, the Indian national accused of being involved in a murder-for-hire plot against Khalistani terrorist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun on American soil, pleaded not guilty in a federal court in New York on Monday.

52-year-old Gupta was recently deported from the Czech Republic, where he was taken into custody last year, on accusations by US investigators that he worked with an Indian government official to assassinate American citizen Pannun.

Gupta was presented before a US Magistrate court, which ordered him detained without bail until his next court appearance on June 28. His lawyer, Jeffrey Chabrowe, described the case as "complex" and said he would pursue a vigorous defence.

On social networking platform X, Czech Republic Police released the first images of Nikhil Gupta's extradition to the United States. They showed a grainy video of Gupta boarding an aircraft and said, "The suspect in an assassination plot is now in US custody." They also verified Gupta was extradited from Prague without incident.

After being arrested in Prague in June of last year, Nikhil Gupta battled extradition until a Czech judge denied his request last month. His extradition to the United States was announced by Czech Justice Minister Pavel Blazek on Friday.

Gupta is charged with two counts of murder for hire and conspiracy to commit murder for hire, each of which carries a potential 10-year jail term. His lawyer Jeffrey Chabrowe cautioned against jumping to conclusions, stating that "background and details will develop that may cast government allegations into an entirely new light."

India has, however, denied its involvement in such a case and has instituted a high-level investigation into the allegations. Earlier, the Ministry of External Affairs had rejected reports of government involvement, saying it makes “unwarranted and unsubstantiated imputations” to claim that Indian agents were involved in the plot to kill Pannun. India has publicly said a high-level inquiry is looking into the evidence shared by the US in the alleged plot to kill Pannun.

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