Indian diplomat spied for Pakistan in ‘reverse honey trap’

Madhuri Gupta, right, after making an appearance at the Tis Hazari Court in New Delhi. Files/AFP
Updated 22 May 2018
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Indian diplomat spied for Pakistan in ‘reverse honey trap’

  • Gupta was allegedly in a relationship with a Pakistani man to whom she passed on classified information
  • Money, sexual favors or loneliness can drive people to reveal their country’s secrets to an enemy nation

NEW DELHI: Security experts in India say it is a common tactic for countries to tap the employees of foreign governments to get access to confidential information, but catching a double agent is a work of vigilance.

The most recent of such cases is that of Madhuri Gupta, an Indian diplomat who was sentenced to three years by an Indian court on Sunday for spying for Pakistan.
On Friday a court found Gupta guilty of “spying and wrongful communication of information” while posted to the Indian embassy in Islamabad, according to news reports. Gupta, 61, is out on bail and plans to appeal the sentence.
Gupta, a low-ranking diplomat, was stationed at the Indian High Commission in Pakistan as second secretary (press and information). She was arrested in 2010 for allegedly passing information to Pakistan’s intelligence unit, ISI or the Inter-Services Intelligence, a charge that she has admitted.
According to security experts, Gupta was allegedly in a relationship with a Pakistani man to whom she passed on classified information.
“It was a reverse honey trap,” said V. Balachandran, a former special secretary in the cabinet secretariat. “This is an old Stasi tactic and she was caught in that.”

Confidential information
The Stasi was East Germany’s official security service when that country was divided in two. It was common practice for the Stasi to have young, handsome East German officers pretend to be West German to meet single West German women posted at embassies and woo them to access confidential information, Balachandran said.
“The good thing is our counterintelligence caught on to it,” he said. “Keeping a watch on your own people is a difficult thing, especially in hostile countries like Islamabad. Despite that they’ve been able to do this and shows that they are quite alert.”
While spying or espionage is common in all countries, it is not common to be caught, experts agree.
“Sometimes these things come to light and there are times that they don’t,” said A.S. Dulat, former special director of India’s Intelligence Bureau who also headed the research and analysis wing. “Not everything gets known. If it does, espionage will come to an end. It’s the luck of the draw.”
Money, sexual favors or loneliness can drive people to reveal their country’s secrets to an enemy nation, Balachandran said.
“That’s why as a security precaution we always say that single people shouldn’t be posted to such embassies, as without a family support network they can get very lonely” and be easy prey, he said.
The extent of the damage, experts agree, depends on what information is leaked.
In the so-called Naval War Room leak, officers of the Indian Navy allegedly stole more than 7,000 pages of documents on India’s maritime preparedness and plans for the next 20 years and leaked them to armsdealers and middlemen.
“That was a very damaging case,” Balachandran said. “And these things happen because of our own failure to notice” the warning signs, he said.
Nuclear-armed arch-rivals India and Pakistan frequently accuse each other of sending spies to their countries and have on several occasions expelled diplomats after allegations of espionage.


Five dead following US Border Patrol car chase in Texas

Updated 15 min 17 sec ago
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Five dead following US Border Patrol car chase in Texas

  • The chase began after a Border Patrol agent noticed three vehicles traveling in a caravan and suspected smuggling
  • Four victims were pronounced dead on the scene and a fifth was pronounced dead after being airlifted to a hospital in San Antonio

BIG WELLS, Texas: Five immigrants died and several others were injured on Sunday when their vehicle careened out of control while being chased by U.S. Border Patrol agents in Texas about 90 miles (145 km) north of the Mexican border, officials said.
Some of the injured were ejected from a Chevy Suburban packed with 14 people that was traveling up to 100 miles per hour (160 kph), Dimmit County Sheriff Marion Boyd told reporters.
The sport utility vehicle skidded off the road and then attempted to get back onto the highway, but the driver overcorrected and the vehicle flipped over, ejecting several people, Boyd said.
"We've seen this many, many times, in not only this county but other counties along the border," Boyd said. "This is a perfect example of why our borders need to be secure."
The chase began after a Border Patrol agent noticed three vehicles traveling in a caravan and suspected smuggling, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said in a statement. Border Patrol agents stopped two of the vehicles and made multiple arrests, but the third vehicle continued, the statement said.
"The driver did not stop and the attempt to stop the vehicle was taken over by a Dimmit County Sheriff's office deputy. The vehicle rolled over a short distance later on highway 85 near Big Wells, resulting in multiple injuries and fatalities," the statement said.
Four victims were pronounced dead on the scene and a fifth was pronounced dead after being airlifted to a hospital in San Antonio, Boyd said. A sixth person was in very critical condition with potentially life-threatening injuries, he said.
Television images showed the smashed vehicle missing at least two wheels, with debris strewn across the road at the Big Wells city limit.
The driver, who was not hurt, was arrested, Boyd said. It was not immediately clear what charges he will face.