Visakhapatnam espionage: Imran travelled to Pak 10 times, deposited money on ISI directions

New Delhi, Sep 15 : Gileti Imran had started working for Pakistan’s spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in 2018 and had travelled to Pakistan 10 times and used to transfer money into the bank accounts of Indian Navy officers after getting directions from his handlers.

Imran was arrested by the NIA in the Visakhapatnam espionage case on Monday from Gujarat for his involvement in espionage activities and working for the ISI.

An NIA spokesperson in Delhi said that the agency arrested Imran, 37, on Monday under several sections of the IPC, the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and the Official Secrets Act as it was found that he was associated with Pakistani spies/agents under the guise of cross-border “cloth trade”.

“As per the directions of the Pakistan-based spies, he deposited money into the bank accounts of Indian Navy personnel at regular intervals in lieu of sensitive and classified data provided by them,” the official said.

A senior NIA official told IANS, “Imran was associated with the ISI since 2018. And he had visited Pakistan 10 times in last three years.”

The official further said that he transferred money into two bank accounts of Naval officers on the directions of his Pakistani handlers.

Explaining the modus operandi of the Pakistani spies, the officer said that they used to lure Indian traders who used to go to Pakistan as part of the class trade.

“The Pakistani spies used to contact the Indian traders and offered them money for the job. Once they agreed, they were asked to lure Indian Navy officers on Facebook and WhatsApp. Once the Pakistani spies received classified information from the Naval officers, the Indian traders were asked to deposit the money in their bank accounts,” the officer added.

The NIA had taken over the case on December 29 last year. The case was originally registered on November 16, 2019 at the CI Cell division of Andhra Pradesh Police for criminal conspiracy and waging or attempting to wage war against the Indian government under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and Section 3 of Official Secrets Act.

The 2019 Visakhapatnam espionage case relates to an international racket involving individuals based in Pakistan and at different locations in India, including Visakhapatnam and Mumbai.

It included agents in India recruited by Pakistan-based spies between 2011 and 2019. According to the NIA, the accused were collecting sensitive and classified information about the locations or movements of Indian Naval ships and submarines and other defence establishments.

Investigation revealed that a few Navy personnel came in contact with the Pakistani nationals through various social media platforms such as Facebook and WhatsApp. Through chats and messages, including sexually-explicit content, exchanged with the accounts of ISI agents posing as young women, the Indian recruits were lured into sharing classified information in lieu of monetary gains.

The espionage racket was busted in an operation code-named ‘Dolphin’s Nose’, jointly executed by the Naval intelligence, Central agencies and Andhra Pradesh State Intelligence wing.

The anti-terror probe agency had filed a chargesheet on June 15 this year against 14 people involved in the espionage case.

–IANS

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