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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 22 June 2018

India court jails ex-diplomat for spying for Pakistan

Madhuri Gupta was found guilty in a New Delhi court on Friday of 'spying and wrongful communication of information'

In this photograph taken on May 1, 2010, Indian Foreign Service (IFS) officer Madhuri Gupta (R) is escorted after making an appearance at the Tis Hazari Court in New Delhi. AFP
In this photograph taken on May 1, 2010, Indian Foreign Service (IFS) officer Madhuri Gupta (R) is escorted after making an appearance at the Tis Hazari Court in New Delhi. AFP

An Indian diplomat convicted of passing state secrets to Pakistan's intelligence services has been jailed for three years, her lawyer said on Sunday.

Madhuri Gupta was found guilty in a New Delhi court on Friday of "spying and wrongful communication of information" while posted to the Indian embassy in Islamabad.

Gupta, 61, was arrested in 2010 for allegedly passing information to the ISI, the intelligence wing of India's arch-rival Pakistan.

The low-level diplomat was detained for alleged breaches of India's official secrets act and held for two years before being released on bail.

Her lawyer, Joginder Dahiya, said Gupta would appeal her sentencing in a higher court.

"She has already been in custody for about 21 months. She should have been released on the basis of the time she has already spent in jail," he said.

Gupta avoided more serious jail time because the information she passed to Pakistani handlers in 2009 and 2010 was not military in nature, the Press Trust of India reported.

As a second secretary, Gupta was among the lowest ranked officials at the highly-sensitive embassy in the Pakistani capital.

She has always denied the charges and claims she was falsely implicated by embassy and foreign ministry officials with whom she had a strained relationship.

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But the court determined that her actions had tarnished India's reputation and compromised its security, handing the maximum possible jail term for the offences.

The information "passed on by the accused [was] categorically sensitive information which could have been useful to the enemy country ... and its secrecy was of utmost importance", PTI reported.

"Therefore, she does not deserve any leniency in punishment."

Indian police say Gupta had been under surveillance for six months before being taken into custody in 2010.

Nuclear rivals India and Pakistan routinely accuse one another of sending spies into their countries, and it is not uncommon for either nation to expel diplomats accused of espionage.