Visakhapatnam navy espionage case: NIA files supplementary charge sheet against Gujarat man

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Friday said it has filed a supplementary charge sheet against Imran Yakub Giteli aka Giteli Imran, a key accused in the Visakhapatnam naval spy ring case, on charges of depositing money in the accounts of Indian Navy personnel in lieu of sensitive data provided by them that is of use to Pakistan, officials said.

An NIA spokesperson said that Giteli, a resident of Godhra in Gujarat, has been charged under several sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Unlawful Activities Prevention Act. The NIA submitted its charge sheet before the NIA Special Court in Andhra Pradesh’s Vijayawada.

The official said that Giteli was in contact with Pakistani agents and used to meet them during his visits to Pakistan.

“On the instructions of Pakistani ISI agents, he was transferring money into the accounts of Navy personnel in lieu of passing sensitive and strategic information,” he said.

The official said that Giteli, 38, was raising funds for terrorist activities in the garb of illegal “cloth business”.

The official said that Giteli, who was arrested in September last year, was associated with Pakistani spies or agents under the guise of cross-border cloth trade.

“Investigations have revealed an organised wide network of Pakistan-based espionage activities in India utilising services of operatives like Giteli,” he added.

The NIA took over the case on December 29, 2019. The case was originally registered on November 16, 2019 at the CI Cell division of Andhra Pradesh Police under criminal conspiracy and waging or attempting to wage war against the Indian government and sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), and 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 in Visakhapatnam and Mumbai.

It included agents in India recruited by Pakistan-based spies between 2011 and 2019.

They were collecting sensitive and classified information about 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, often comprising sexually-explicit content, exchanged with accounts of ISI agents posing as young women, Indian recruits were lured into sharing classified information in lieu of monetary gains.

The money was deposited into the bank accounts of the navy personnel through Indian associates having business interests in Pakistan.

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 has filed a chargesheet on June 15 last year against 14 people involved in the espionage case.