Justice Department charges Indian national in plot to kill US citizen, Sikh separatist leader

The target of the foiled assassination was a U.S. citizen living in New York City whom the Indian government considers to be a terrorist.
Protest against Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, New Delhi, India, Sept. 24, 2023

The Justice Department on Wednesday announced charges against an Indian national in connection to an alleged plot to assassinate a U.S. citizen who is a leader of a Sikh Separatist movement.

Authorities in the Czech Republic arrested the suspect, Nakhil Gupta, 52, in June pursuant to an extradition treaty with the United States, and Damian Williams, the U.S. Attorney for New York's Southern District, said Wednesday that the Indian national has been charged with murder-for-hire and conspiracy to commit murder-for-hire.

The Justice Department did not publicly name the assassination target, but The Associated Press identified him as Gurpatwant Singh Pannun.

"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," Williams said. 

Pannun is a vocal critic of the U.S. government who advocates for the independence of Punjab, a state in northern India with a significant number of Sikhs. The Indian government considers him to be a terrorist.

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