U.S. Justice Department says Indian government employee involved in assassination plot

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OTTAWA — America’s Justice Department is now accusing an Indian government employee of involvement in the assassination of a Sikh separatist, mirroring the claims that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made against India earlier this fall.

The U.S. Attorney’s office in New York announced an indictment Wednesday against Nikhil Gupta, an Indian national who the U.S. government alleges conspired with an Indian government official to assassinate an unnamed Sikh separatist living in New York City.

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In a news release, assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen said the government has disrupted a dangerous plot.

“The dedicated law enforcement agents and prosecutors in this case foiled and exposed a dangerous plot to assassinate a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil. The Department of Justice will be relentless in using the full reach of our authorities to pursue accountability for lethal plotting emanating from overseas.”

Trudeau said in September that Canada has “credible allegations” that the Indian government was involved in the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar outside a Sikh temple in British Columbia.

Trudeau’s remarks have led to a fallout in relations between Canada and India, with India expelling dozens of Canadian diplomats and briefly suspending visas between the two countries.

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According to U.S. investigators, the plot was foiled because a hitman that Gupta is accused of paying for the murder was in fact an undercover officer with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

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American officials posted the indictment against Gupta and the unnamed Indian government official online and, according to the indictment, after Nijjar was killed Gupta is alleged to have reached out to the undercover officer and said there was no longer any need to wait on the New York City assassination.

He allegedly told the undercover officer that Nijjar “was also the target” and we have “so many targets.” Gupta is accused of providing $15,000 as a downpayment for the murder as part of a $100,000 overall fee.

The U.S. indictment doesn’t name the Indian government employee but describes them as a “senior field officer” with responsibilities in “security management and intelligence.”

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