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Police charge businessman with spying for U.S.

January 29, 1986

NEW DELHI, India (AP) _ Police on Tuesday accused a businessman of spying for America, West Germany and Israel and said the U.S. Embassy financed his propaganda campaign against the Soviet Union.

The allegations were contained in documents filed Tuesday with a New Delhi court against Rama Swarup, head of the Far East Trade Services. He was arrested last October and accused of spying for the Nationalist Chinese government on Taiwan.

It is the second major spy scandal in India within a year. Last January, 17 people were arrested and at least six foreign diplomats, including envoys from the Soviet Union, France, Poland and East Germany, were expelled in the biggest espionage case since Indian independence in 1947.

The police documents also alleged that Swarup paid for trips to Taiwan by Kanti Desai, son of former Prime Minister Morarji Desai, and several senior government officials in an attempt to gain support for the Nationalist Chinese government, which India does not recognize.

On Monday, two officials mentioned as taking the trips resigned. They were Chandulal Chandrakar, minister of state for rural development, and K.P. Singh Deo, minister of state for food and civil supplies.

Swarup is accused of accepting money from the U.S. Embassy to organize seminars and demonstrations against the Soviet military intervention in Afghanistan and of passing defense secrets to the United States, West Germany, Taiwan and Israel.

The court documents state that U.S. Embassy officials used Swarup’s contacts with Kanti Desai to gain information about the leadership of his opposition Janata Party.

″In addition to this, he used to get translated many articles which were sent for publication. All these letters and articles were pro-U.S. and anti- U.S.S.R. in nature,″ police said in the court file.

They also claimed that Swarup worked with West German and American diplomats in 1978 to establish a parliamentary group ″to do talent scouting″ for Western intelligence agents.

U.S. Embassy spokesman Thomas Dove said, ″As a matter of principle, we do not comment on such matters.″

Swarup’s lawyer, Pran Lekhi, called the allegations ″scandalous untruths″ and claimed Swarup was actually working for Indian intelligence.

″He should be tried by the Russians because the thrust of the accusation is that he has been engaged in actions harmful to the U.S.S.R.,″ Lekhi said. ″It is a matter of regret that the government of India should bring such accusations in a nation where there is supposed to be freedom of speech and expression.″

The police allegations will be examined by a magistrate who will determine if formal charges should be filed. Meanwhile, Swarup remains in prison.