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British spies charged in the arrest of a Sikh blogger in India

#British #spies #charged #arrest #Sikh #blogger #India

Human rights groups said Tuesday British intelligence services may have shared information with India that led to the arrest and torture of a Sikh blogger from Scotland.

Jagtar Singh Johal, 35, has been in detention in India for more than four years.

He is accused of involvement in a terrorist attack against right-wing Hindu leaders and has been charged with conspiracy to murder.

“Our investigators have uncovered critical information that in 2017 the UK government may have authorized MI5 and MI6 to share information on British citizen Jagtar Singh Johal,” two organizations, Reprieve and Redress, said in a joint statement.

They claimed this tip “led to his unlawful arrest and torture in India.”

The current Prime Minister Boris Johnson was Foreign Secretary at the time.

Britain is bound by international treaties such as the European Convention on Human Rights not to extradite citizens who are at risk of torture.

But family members of Johal and other British nationals who have been jailed or recently released abroad have called for legislation obliging the UK government to actively protect people involved in such cases.

Johal, from Dumbarton in western Scotland, has filed a lawsuit against the UK government and is being represented by UK law firm Leigh Day.

He has petitioned the High Court in London, demanding a public apology and redress from the government.

“It would be totally unacceptable for the UK government to put any individual, let alone a British citizen, at risk of torture or the death penalty,” said Waleed Sheikh, partner at Leigh Day.

– electric shocks –

Reprieve and Redress said Johal was kidnapped with a sack over his head in 2017 while he was in India for his wedding.

He was held incommunicado for 10 days and tortured with electric shocks on his earlobes, nipples and genitals until he signed a “false confession”.

“Evidence has now been uncovered that the British intelligence agencies MI5 and MI6 may have contributed to Jagtar’s detention and torture by sharing information with Indian authorities,” the NGOs said.

They accused the UK of acting when “there was a real risk that Jagtar would be tortured, ill-treated or threatened with the death penalty”.

Director of Redress, Rupert Skilbeck, called for a “full review of the way the UK government is reacting when British citizens are being tortured abroad” and “the role of the intelligence services in this case”.

Leigh Day argues that an anonymized case study in a 2018 report by the UK Home Office, the Investigatory Powers Commission, appears to discuss Johal’s case.

The Commission monitors the use of undercover investigative powers by UK authorities, including the police and intelligence services.

It was said that the domestic intelligence services MI5 and MI6 had leaked information about a British national to foreign authorities, leading to their detention and torture.

– ‘Release Johal’ –

“Britain is fortunate that its civil service is persistent in documenting wrongdoing,” wrote The Times newspaper.

“It was only on the basis of the annual report of the Inquiry Officer for Powers that the treatment of Johal and the British State’s handwriting therein was revealed.”

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention reported this year that Johal’s arrest was “excessive” and “arbitrary” and on “discriminatory grounds”.

Prime Minister Johnson then accepted this.

The UN working group said the “appropriate remedy would be the immediate release of Mr Johal”.

The “online activist … has contributed to a magazine and website documenting the persecution of India’s Sikh religious minority,” the UN report said.

India has aired TV footage of Johal’s alleged confession but denied physical and mental torture, it added.

The UN panel said the activist was being held in Tihar prison in New Delhi.

The Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office, in response to the allegations, said it would be “inappropriate” to speak out during a court hearing.

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#British #spies #charged #arrest #Sikh #blogger #India

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