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Pannun plot: Biden admin briefs 5 Indian-American lawmakers on Gupta's case

By Lalit K Jha
December 16, 2023 01:23 IST
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The Biden administration officials on Friday briefed the five Indian-American lawmakers on the indictment of Nikhil Gupta, an Indian, who has been accused of plotting an assassination attempt on a Sikh separatist on American soil.

IMAGE: Gurpatwant Singh Pannun. Photograph: Courtesy @SFJ_Gurpatwant/X

Congress members Ami Bera, Pramila Jayapal, Ro Khanna, Raja Krishnamoorthi and Shri Thanedar released a joint statement after receiving a classified briefing from the Biden administration on Gupta's indictment.


On November 29, Gupta was charged by federal prosecutors in the US in connection with his alleged participation in a foiled plot to assassinate Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, a US citizen, on American soil.

"As Members of Congress, the safety and well-being of our constituents is our most important priority. The allegations made in the indictment are deeply concerning," the statement said.

"We welcome the government of India's announcement of a committee of enquiry to investigate the murder plot, and it is critical that India fully investigate, hold those responsible, including Indian government officials, accountable, and provide assurances that this will not happen again," it said.

"We believe the US-India partnership has made a meaningful impact on the lives of both of our people, but we are concerned that the actions outlined in the indictment could, if not appropriately addressed, cause significant damage to this very consequential partnership," the five Indian American congressmen said.

The lawmakers said they appreciated the administration providing a classified briefing on the Department of Justice's indictment of Gupta.

The 52-year-old was charged with murder-for-hire, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, and conspiracy to commit murder-for-hire, which has a maximum sentence of a 10-year jail term.

US authorities had alleged Gupta agreed to pay an assassin $100,000 to kill the Sikh separatist leader living in New York City.

Gupta was arrested in the Czech Republic on June 30 at the request of the US in connection with his alleged participation in the plot to kill Pannun.

India has already constituted a high-level probe team to investigate the allegations relating to the foiled plot to kill Pannun.

Pro-Khalistan group Sikh for Justice welcomed the briefing by the US administration.

"It is reassuring that the US Congress is steadfast in its fundamental constitutional duty to protect the life and liberty and freedom of expression of the US Citizen at home and abroad. This is the bedrock of American Democracy," Pannun, general counsel of SFJ, said.

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Lalit K Jha in Washington, DC
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