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Six Indian Spies, Linked to CIA, Sent to Jail

October 30, 1986

NEW DELHI, India (AP) _ Five government officials and a businessman have been convicted of spying for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and sentenced to three-year jail terms.

The six were involved in a 15-year spy ring that regularly supplied classified information about India’s military projects and secret monthly reports of the ministries of foreign affairs, petroleum, chemicals and fertilizers, Judge S.C. Jain said Wednesday.

One of the government officials, K.K. Sareen, a director in India’s Planning Commission, was also convicted of passing secrets to a Soviet diplomat. Sareen became a double agent out of greed, according to court testimony.

Six U.S. Embassy officials implicated in the espionage were expelled by the Indian government soon after investigators discovered the ring in 1977. The court identified them as William M. Decker, James Higham, Vendon Bos, David Parker and Donald V. Schullar and his wife.

The Soviet diplomat, who also left India, was not identified.

The judgment, which acquitted two other government officials, followed an eight-year trial, frequently delayed.

The six, freed on bail in 1977, were rearrested after the court verdict. Another person allegedly involved in the ring, G.K. Reddy, fled the country before he could be arrested.

Jain found the six guilty in five separate espionage cases and imposed the maximum sentence of three years in each case. But the sentences will run concurrently.

Besides Sareen, the others convicted were R.P. Varshney, also a director in the sensitive Planning Commission, business consultant P.E. Mehta and three aides to ministers in the Cabinet of late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

The aides were identified as Mahabir Prasad, C.S. Balakrishnan and E.L. Chaudhari.

All the government officials accused were suspended from their jobs in 1977.

Jain ruled that for 15 years the convicts passed on secret information to CIA operatives in India about the country’s warplane and ordnance factories. They also supplied drawings of Soviet artillery guns, missiles and radars bought by India, the judge said.

The espionage ring was uncovered in January 1977 when plainclothes police arrested Mehta and Choudhari while they were trading highly classified documents in the public toilet of New Delhi’s Oberoi Intercontinental Hotel.

The government seized and sold millions of dollars worth of property of Reddy, a wealthy industrialist.

Last year, Indian investigators uncovered another ring which they said had been spying for the United States. Earlier in 1985, security agencies also uncovered an espionage ring selling secrets to France, the Soviet Union and some East European nations.

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