19 Sep 2020: Arrested journalist shared India's border strategy with China, say police
Sharma was writing on defense-related issues for some Indian media organizations along with China's Global Times.
He was arrested two days ago under the stringent Officials Secret Act (OSA) by the Special Cell of Delhi Police.
Here are more details.
Details: Police received tip-off about Sharma sharing confidential information
Speaking at a press conference on Saturday, Special Cell DCP Sanjeev Kumar Yadav said that Sharma had received a hefty amount from a Chinese woman and her Nepalese associate sharing sensitive information.
The Chinese woman, Qing Shi, and her associate, Sher Singh alias Raj Bhora, have also been arrested.
The police was tipped off that Sharma had been sharing confidential documents with Chinese intelligence.
Investigation: Police seized several incriminating documents from Sharma's house
During a search of Sharma's house, the police recovered and seized several incriminating documents including some confidential ones relating to the Indian Defense Department. His laptop has also been seized.
The police said that Sharma was receiving money in return through a "hawala" channel.
He received $1,000 for each information, accruing Rs. 40 lakh through one-and-a-half years.
Interrogation: Sharma passed sensitive information to Chinese handlers
During interrogation, the police said, Sharma revealed he had been passing sensitive information to his handlers Michael and George through various digital channels. The two are based in China's Kunming city, he said.
The police said Michael recruited Sharma after seeing the latter's weekly columns for Global Times between 2010 and 2014. The publication is widely known as "a mouthpiece of the China government."
Contact: Michael approached Sharma through LinkedIn
Michael approached Sharma through LinkedIn and invited him for an interview with a Chinese media company, according to the police.
During the trip, which was funded by Michael, Sharma was asked to provide inputs on various aspects of India-China relations by Michael and his junior Xou.
Sharma remained in contact with Michael and Xou from 2016 to 2018.
Fact: Sharma shared details of Army deployment at Bhutan-Sikkim-China, including Doklam
Sharma was asked to share information on the Indian deployment on the Bhutan-Sikkim-China tri-junction including Doklam; the pattern of India-Myanmar military co-operation and the India-China boundary issue. He further held meetings with Michael and Xou in Laos and the Maldives.
Later events: George asked Sharma to inform him about Dalai Lama-related issues
In January 2019, Sharma met George, who he was told was the General Manager of a Chinese media company.
"During the meeting, George asked Sharma to write and inform him about issues related to Dalai Lama. He was offered $500 per article/piece of information," Yadav said.
Sharma was told that he would receive the money from the Chinese company's sister firm in Delhi's Mahipalpur.
Finances: Sharma received money through shell companies
It was found that Sharma was receiving the money through shell companies being operated by foreign intelligence, Yadav said.
Chinese nationals Jhang Chang and his wife Chang-li-lia were running the companies MZ Pharmacy and MZ Malls, under fake names Suraj and Usha, he said.
The two are currently in China and Qing Shi and Bhora were handling the business here from Mahipalpur, he added.