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An Indian national has been charged with allegedly orchestrating a thwarted murder-for-hire plot that sought to execute a U.S. citizen and Sikh activist on U.S. soil in New York City.
Nikhil “Nick” Gupta, 52, of India, is charged with murder for hire, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, and conspiracy to commit murder-for-hire, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York announced. He is alleged to have worked at the direction of an unnamed Indian government agency employee, according to the charges contained in a superseding indictment unsealed in federal court Wednesday.
“As alleged, the defendant conspired from India to assassinate, right here in New York City, a U.S. citizen of Indian origin who has publicly advocated for the establishment of a sovereign state for Sikhs, an ethnoreligious minority group in India,” U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said. “I am grateful that my Office and our law enforcement partners neutralized this deadly and outrageous threat. We will not tolerate efforts to assassinate U.S. citizens on U.S. soil, and stand ready to investigate, thwart, and prosecute anyone who seeks to harm and silence Americans here or abroad.”
CANADA INVESTIGATING ALLEGATIONS INDIA INVOLVED IN ASSASSINATION OF SIKH ACTIVIST ON CANADIAN SOIL
Activists of the Dal Khalsa Sikh organization, a pro-Khalistan group, stage a demonstration demanding justice for Sikh separatist Hardeep Singh Nijjar, who was killed in June 2023 near Vancouver. (NARINDER NANU/AFP via Getty Images)
Czech authorities already arrested and detained Gupta, an Indian national, on June 30, 2023, pursuant to the bilateral extradition treaty between the United States and the Czech Republic.
Federal prosecutors say an Indian government agency employee, described in court documents as CC-1, allegedly committed “the brazen act of recruiting an international narcotics trafficker to murder a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil.” The employee, who described himself as a “Senior Field Officer” with responsibilities in “Security Management” and “Intelligence,” and who also has referenced previously serving in India’s Central Reserve Police Force, allegedly directed the assassination plot from India.
The employee allegedly recruited Gupta in May to help orchestrate the assassination of the unnamed victim who prosecutors say is a U.S. citizen originally from India who had publicly called for some or all of Punjab to secede from India and establish a Sikh sovereign state called Khalistan.
Protestors hold a picture of Indian Prime Minster Narendra Modi during a demonstration outside the Indian consulate in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on Monday, Sept. 25, 2023. (Arlyn McAdorey/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
CANADA EXPELS TOP INDIAN DIPLOMAT AMID PROBE INTO ALLEGED LINKS TO SIKH ACTIVIST’S ASSASSINATION
The Indian government has banned the victim and his separatist organization from India.
At the Indian government employee’s direction, Gupta allegedly contacted an individual who he believed to be a criminal associate who was in fact an undercover source for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Authorities say Gupta helped broker a deal of a $100,000 payment for the murder-for-hire and arranged for an advanced payment of $15,000 to be delivered in Manhattan in June.
Protestors burn a picture of Indian Prime Minster Narendra Modi outside the Indian consulate in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on Monday, Sept. 25, 2023. (Arlyn McAdorey/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
On June 18, 2023, masked gunmen murdered Hardeep Singh Nijjar outside a Sikh temple in British Columbia, Canada, federal prosecutors say. According to authorities, Nijjar was an associate of the victim, and like the victim, was a leader of the Sikh separatist movement and an outspoken critic of the Indian government.
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The indictment says that the day after Nijjar’s murder, Gupta told the undercover source that Nijjar “was also the target” and “we have so many targets.” Gupta allegedly added that, in light of Nijjar’s murder, there was “now no need to wait” on killing the New York target. On June 20, 2023, the Indian government employee allegedly sent Gupta a news article about the victim, writing, “[i]t’s [a] priority now.”
Danielle Wallace is a reporter for Fox News Digital covering politics, crime, police and more. Story tips can be sent to [email protected] and on Twitter: @danimwallace.