A Czech appeals court approved the extradition of Nikhil Gupta, a 52-year-old Indian man, to the United States. He had been accused by US federal prosecutors of collaborating with an Indian government official in an unsuccessful plot to assassinate Khalistani terrorist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun who lives in New York.
The final decision on Gupta's extradition rested with Justice Minister Pavel Blazek, as per a ministry spokesperson, reported Reuters.
The 52-year-old Indian national was arrested in the Czech Republic on June 30 at the request of the US, who accused him of being involved in the planning to kill Pannun.
US federal prosecutors have charged Gupta with murder-for-hire and conspiracy to commit murder-for-hire, with each count carrying a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.
Gupta's defense, as reported by Czech news website Seznam Zprávy, hinges on a case of mistaken identity, asserting that he is not the individual sought by the US authorities and labelling the case as politically motivated.
Despite Gupta's appeal against a lower court's decision in December, which permitted his extradition, the Prague High Court has upheld the ruling, as per a Reuters report.
The Justice Ministry spokesperson has indicated that the final say now rests with Justice Minister Pavel Blazek, who will make a determination once all parties have received the court's decision. However, the timeline for this decision remains uncertain.
Gupta was charged on November 20 by the US Justice Department for his involvement in the alleged murder plot.
According to US officials, Gupta had agreed to pay $100,000 to an assassin to carry out the killing, with an advance payment of $15,000 already made on June 9, 2023. However, the individual he contacted for the hitman turned out to be a confidential source working with US law enforcement.
Terming the charges a "matter of concern" and contrary to "government policy", New Delhi has announced a high-level probe into the allegations.