Exclude public from bail plea hearing of journalist accused of espionage, disclosure could affect safety of state: ED to HC

The Ed told the Delhi HC that the case concerns highly confidential and secret information relating to military intelligence.

The Enforcement Directorate Thursday asked the Delhi High Court to hold in-camera proceedings in the bail application filed by freelance journalist Rajeev Sharma, who is accused of espionage under the Official Secrets Act in a case registered by the Delhi Police’s Special Cell. The ED has accused Sharma of money laundering in the matter and registered a separate case against him and others.

In an application before the HC, the Directorate said the case concerns highly confidential and secret information relating to military intelligence. “Therefore, the present application u/s 14 of Official Secrets Act, 1923, is being moved, praying for exclusion of the public during the proceedings before this Hon’ble Court, when the present matter will be heard, since any disclosure during the course of the proceedings relating to an offence under the Official Secrets Act, 1923, would be prejudicial to the safety of the state,” it said.

The Delhi Police has accused Sharma of having links with Chinese intelligence officers and receiving funds from foreign handlers for allegedly conveying to them sensitive information pertaining to national security and foreign relations.

Sharma was arrested on September 14 last year. Two other persons, a Chinese and a Nepalese national, were also arrested later.

The ED has alleged that Sharma worked with various media agencies across the globe but in the case of South Asian Monitor, received all the money in cash through a shell company run by Chinese nationals on the instance of Chinese intelligence officers. The central agency has also alleged that some of the foreign trips made by the accused and his wife were financed by Chinese nationals.

Sharma got bail in the case filed by the Delhi Police but is in custody in the related case registered by the ED. His bail application in the ED case was adjourned for hearing on September 20 by the High Court on Thursday.

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