DRDO espionage case: One of 5 accused received money from Dubai account


By Express News Service

BHUBANESWAR: The Crime Branch of Police probing the espionage incident in the Integrated Test Range (ITR), a unit of DRDO on Tuesday claimed to have traced the money trail between the accused and the ISI operative.

The investigating agency has taken five accused persons, including one permanent and four contractual employees of DRDO, on a seven-day remand for interrogation.

Crime Branch ADG Sanjeeb Panda said one of the five arrested for allegedly spying in ITR had received Rs 38,000 in two instalLments from a bank account in Dubai.

“We are now verifying if the Dubai account has any financial transaction with the bank accounts of other accused and whether they received money or gained other benefits through other means in exchange of defence information,” he said.

The informers, Panda said, had initially established links through Facebook messenger before exchanging information frequently through WhatsApp.

ALSO READ | Odisha Police arrest four DRDO employees for sharing defence secrets with ‘Pakistani agents’

“All social media accounts of the accused persons are being verified. A preliminary investigation revealed a woman operative, who had established links with them through different names from different places in the country, used a UK number to exchange information. Efforts are on to find out more details about the conduit,” he informed.

The investigating team is also tracing the call records of the accused to ascertain the information shared with the woman operative. The mobile phones seized from them will be sent for forensic analysis.

Apart from the Crime Branch, a team of Indian Air Force officials is also interrogating the accused persons to find out the kind of information and photos and videos shared with the Pakistani agent. They are learnt to have passed the information on the launching complex, the test of different missiles from the ITR and the outcome of the tests.

The Crime Branch ADG, however, clarified that the National Investigation Agency (NIA) team is yet to interrogate the accused persons. A two-member NIA team had earlier visited the ITR and grilled a security officer.

The Balasore police had earlier arrested contractual employees – Basanta Behera (52), Hemanta Kumar Mistri (52), Tapas Ranjan Nayak (41), Sk Musafir (32), all from Balasore and permanent employee Sachin Kumar Chatta of Uttar Pradesh for allegedly leaking defence secrets to Pakistani agents.

Since Sachin, driver of a top defence scientist, hails from Meerut and Ishwar Behera arrested in a similar case six years ago had received money from an ISI handler in the Uttar Pradesh city, the probing agencies are trying to ascertain if there is any link between the two incidents.

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