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Indian Reporter Arrested on Espionage Charges

FILE - A man walks past India's Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) headquarters building in New Delhi, India, March 6, 2018.

India’s Central Bureau of Investigation arrested a freelance reporter on espionage charges this week, saying the journalist illegally collected sensitive information about the Indian army and shared the information with foreign governments.

On Tuesday night, longtime reporter Vivek Raghuvanshi was arrested for allegedly collecting sensitive information about the Indian army and the Defense Research Development Organization, which leads the military’s research and development, according to The Indian Express.

Raghuvanshi’s associate, a former Navy commander, was also arrested on similar charges.

For over three decades, Raghuvanshi reported on India’s defense industry for media, including the U.S.-based Sightline Media Group, which publishes Defense News and Military Times. Raghuvanshi is the India correspondent for Defense News.

The Washington-based National Press Club condemned Raghuvanshi’s arrest and called for his release.

“We were disappointed to hear of the arrest of journalist Vivek Raghuvanshi in India this week,” Eileen O’Reilly, president of the National Press Club, and Gil Klein, president of the National Press Club Journalism Institute, said in a statement Wednesday.

“The charges against him of working with a foreign intelligence service are completely at odds with his well-established professional profile. Vivek has a solid reputation and the respect of his colleagues. We hope his release and these allegations are resolved swiftly and Vivek is allowed to resume his reporting,” O’Reilly and Klein continued in the statement.

A spokesperson from the Central Bureau of Investigation, or CBI, told The Indian Express that Raghuvanshi and his associate, Ashish Pathak, “were in possession of classified secret documents related to Indian defense establishments.”

“Raghuvanshi was allegedly collecting confidential information related to India’s defense procurement from various sources and was in contact with several foreign entities/agents/persons,” the CBI spokesperson said.

At least 10 journalists are currently detained in India, according to the press freedom group Reporters Without Borders, which ranks India 161 out of 180 countries in terms of press freedom.