NEW DELHI: The CBI has arrested freelance journalist Vivek Raghuvanshi and former Navy commander Ashish Pathak for allegedly collecting sensitive information on defence matters and passing them on to foreign intelligence agencies, officials said on Wednesday.
Raghuvanshi and Pathak were produced before a special CBI court which sent them to six days custody of the agency, they said.
“It was also alleged that the accused and his associate (ex-Navy commander Pathak), presently working with a (private) firm, were in possession of classified secret document related to Indian defence establishments,” a CBI spokesperson said.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had taken over the probe from the Delhi Police Special Cell, which was on the trail of Raghuvanshi since September last year, after getting information that some Indian journalists were collecting and passing on such information to foreign intelligence agencies having potential to disturb relations with friendly countries.
The information received by the Special Cell suggested that a journalist was illegally collecting “sensitive details” about “future procurement of armed forces which reveal the strategic preparedness of our country’s classified communications/information related to national security, and details of strategic and diplomatic talks of India with our friendly countries, which can spoil the bilateral relations of India with them…” the FIR said.
According to the Special Cell’s FIR, Raghuvanshi allegedly procured and supplied such information to intelligence agencies of foreign countries.
On directions of the Ministry of Home Affairs, the CBI took over the case on December 9 last year registering the FIR against Raghuvanshi, they said.
After a detailed background work and maintaining surveillance, the CBI on Tuesday carried out a raid at 15 places in Delhi-NCR and Jaipur where Raghuvanshi apparently resides, they said.
“The CBI has seized 48 electronic devices, including laptops, tablets, mobile phones, hard disks, and pen drives belonging to the FIR named accused and others associated with the said accused, during the searches,” the spokesperson said.
He said a number of incriminating documents relating to Indian defence establishments have also been seized.
“The data stored in cloud based accounts/e-mails/social media accounts belonging to the accused/others have also been recovered by digital forensic experts of the CBI,” he said.
“The scrutiny of devices recovered so far from the possession of accused also revealed that the accused was allegedly collecting confidential information related to India’s defence procurement from different sources. He was in contact with several foreign entities/agents/persons, and that he had entered into contracts/agreements with several foreign entities for sharing of confidential information. It was also alleged that the accused and his family members had received substantial amount from foreign sources,” he said.
Raghuvanshi, who is listed as India correspondent of a US-based portal on defence and strategic affairs on its website, was then taken into custody along with Pathak.
The agency has booked Raghuvanshi and Pathak under Section 3 (spying) of the Official Secrets Act and under Section 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code. (PTI)