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Plea to help scientist caught in spy scam

Eminent space scientists and former chief election commissioner T N Seshan have appealed to the authorities concerned to put an end to the harassment of Indian Space Research Organisation scientist Dr S Nambinarayanan in connection with an espionage scandal.

In an open letter released to the press in Bangalore on Thursday, February 6, they said the Central Bureau of Investigation has absolved Dr Namibinarayanan of any wrongdoing.

The verdict of the chief judicial magistrate of Ernakulam, discharging all the accused in the ISRO espionage case was also on record. However, the recent clearance accorded by the Kerala high court to further investigate the case would drag him and his family through another period of crisis.

The main allegation against Dr Nambinarayanan was that drawings and documents relating to the Viking engine and cryogenic technology were handed over to enemy countries in exchange for large amounts of money in dollars at three different locations (Madras, Bangalore, Thiruvananthapuram) in January, June and September 1994.

They said searches conducted by both Kerala police and the CBI had revealed no incriminating material or receipt of money from or by him.

Besides Seshan, who had once served in the Space Commission, the signatories to the three-page letter are former space commission chairmen S Dhawan and U R Rao, Professor Yash Pal, Professor R Narasimha and space scientist S Chandrashekar.

Referring to the CBI report, the scientists said the investigations had revealed that Nabinarayanan had never met Ramon Srivatsava, S K Sharma or the two Maldivian women.

The accusations against him regarding financial gains from espionage were baseless his lifestyle was very close to that of a poor person and that a lie detector test administered to Nambinarayanan by the CBI validated that he was speaking truth.

An internal investigation carried out by ISRO has shown that no original drawings relating to the Viking or cryogenic engines were missing. Even fabrication drawings, which ISRO routinely passed on to industry, were not missing, they pointed out.

''As people who have been associated with technology development in India, we have not been able to understand the logic of what is supposed to have happened in the espionage case, they said.

Acquisition of technology by any foreign power is a complex process. Experience indicated that even when drawings were acquired under open technology transfer agreements, their transformation into working hardware takes time, expertise and large financial outlays, they added.


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