Honey-trap alert after ‘spy’ arrest

An engineer with BrahMos Aerospace was arrested for passing on sensitive information to Pakistan

By Imran Ahmed Siddiqui in New Delhi
  • Published 11.10.18, 1:48 AM
  • Updated 11.10.18, 2:50 AM
  • 2 mins read
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Nishant Agarwal Sourced by the Telegraph

Intelligence agencies have asked government departments to remain alert to “honey traps” set by foreign agencies to target officers involved in dealing with sensitive information, the warning coming in the wake of Monday’s arrest of an engineer with BrahMos Aerospace.

“Good-looking Chinese and Pakistani girls are being used by foreign agencies to honey-trap officers of the armed forces and others working in the security set-up,” a senior IB official said.

“An alert has been sounded to raise awareness among government departments, especially the defence forces.”

Nishant Agarwal, an engineer with the BrahMos Aerospace unit in Nagpur, was arrested on Monday on the charge of passing on sensitive information to Pakistan’s spy agency.

A probe has revealed that he was in touch with two suspected ISI agents and allegedly shared classified information after being honey-trapped online.

BrahMos Aerospace is a joint venture between the Defence Research and Development Organisation and NPI Mashinostroyenia, a Russian military industrial consortium.

“Nishant Agarwal is suspected to have passed on sensitive technical information to Pakistan-based users on Facebook. The Uttar Pradesh anti-terror squad and officials from military intelligence are examining all his electronic gadgets and have found evidence of his chats with Pakistan-based users on social networking sites,” an official said.

Foreign intelligence agencies are suspected to be using English- and Urdu-speaking women to trap Indian officers through social media, sources in the Union home ministry said.

In some cases they send friend requests to officers on Facebook and exchange numbers and start chatting through smartphones of Chinese make before blackmailing the officers in lieu of classified information.

According to records available with the ministry, 13 serving and retired defence personnel had been arrested for allegedly spying for the ISI or being part of its espionage racket over the past four years.

Probes into these cases had revealed that the women struck up a friendship with vulnerable officers on Facebook and lured them into sex chats. “After exchanging phone numbers some of the accused officials had started chatting on WhatsApp and in lieu of sex chats they passed on classified information,” a ministry official said.

In February this year Delhi police had arrested a senior Indian air force officer for allegedly sharing classified information with a woman. Group Captain Arun Marwah, 51, was booked under the Official Secrets Act after a probe revealed that he was honey-trapped online by Pakistan’s ISI through two Facebook accounts and on WhatsApp.

In a similar case, Ranjith, an air force official, was arrested by Delhi police in December 2015 on the charge of sharing secret documents with ISI operatives. He had come in touch with a woman on Facebook while recovering from an illness in a military hospital.

The woman had sent a friend request on Facebook and both indulged in dirty talk at night. During a conversation one night he had passed on classified information and the woman later started blackmailing him saying she had recorded the conversation.

Investigations revealed that he had shared sensitive details of a base from where drones and airborne early warning and control systems were operated.