The Enforcement Directorate has arrested freelance journalist Rajeev Sharma, who is accused of supplying confidential and sensitive information to Chinese intelligence officers in exchange for remuneration. A statement issued by ED said that Sharma was arrested on July 1 under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act. Sharma was present before a court, and he was sent to ED custody for 7 days.
Rajeev Sharma was earlier arrested by Delhi police in September last year 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 on the basis of the FIR and charge sheet filed by Delhi Police against Rajeev Sharma under the provisions of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 and the Official Secrets Act, 1923.
During the investigation, it was revealed that Rajeev Sharma had supplied confidential and sensitive information to Chinese intelligence officers, in exchange for remuneration, thereby compromising the security and national interests of India. The probe had found 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.
Rajeev was arrested by the special cell of the Delhi Police on 14 September 2020. The freelance journalist had earlier 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 had also written columns with left-wing publications such as The Quint, DailyO etc.
After the arrest, Rajeev Sharma was granted bail by the Delhi High Court in December last year. He was given bail as the charge sheet was not filed withing 60 days.