Mehmood Akhtar, the Pakistan High Commission staffer who was declared “persona non grata” on Thursday after Delhi Police accused him of espionage, has claimed, in a video-recorded interrogation, that he sourced “sensitive” information from an official with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
Police sources told The Indian Express that Akhtar’s interrogation was recorded on Thursday before he was handed over to High Commission officials. “On being asked about his informers and sources, Akhtar disclosed the names of other ISI agents posted in the Pakistan High Commission and the name of an official with ISRO who provided sensitive details to him,” a senior police official said.
At least 45 minutes of Akhtar’s questioning by Delhi Police crime branch was recorded, sources said. A senior police officer said that the video begins with Akhtar, flanked by two police constables, being asked his name and address by another police officer.
It is learnt that the video shows Akhtar “trembling” as police begin questioning him in Hindi. Two constables hold him on either side. Another officer offers Akhtar some water to calm him down and after a few minutes the constables back away from Akhtar.
“He was uncomfortable at first but after drinking some water he calmed down. Officers told him they already knew about his operation and were only trying to corroborate the information they had,” a source said.
Sources said Akhtar disclosed the names of Ramzan Khan and Subhash Jangir — also arrested Thursday — and gave names of other alleged informants in India, including that of the ISRO official.
Police sources said Akhtar named eight officials in the Pakistan High Commission who, he alleged, were trained by the ISI. Sources said that during Akhtar’s questioning, senior officials from the Pak High Commission arrived at the Delhi Police’s Inter-State Cell office in Chankyapuri. According to the police, Akhtar was questioned for a short time in the presence of Pak officials.
The Pak High Commission has denied the allegations and, in a retaliatory gesture, declared Surjeet Singh, an Indian official at the High Commission in Islamabad, as “persona non grata.”