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Prosecutors charge Indian man with attempted murder-for-hire plot against Sikh activist on US soil

US federal prosecutors have charged an Indian national in an alleged murder-for-hire plot to try to assassinate a Sikh political activist in New York City, according to an indictment unsealed Wednesday.

Authorities say Nikhil Gupta, 52, paid an undercover officer he believed to be a hitman $100,000 to target the victim, a US citizen who is unnamed in the indictment but described as an attorney and vocal critic of the Indian government.

US officials familiar with the case told CNN the victim is Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, who runs a New York-based outfit called “Sikhs for Justice,” which has held referendums for a separate Khalistan state. The organization is considered unlawful in India, where its website is not accessible.

Gupta has been charged with murder-for-hire and conspiracy to commit murder-for-hire - was arrested in June of this year in the Czech Republic and held pursuant to a bilateral extradition treaty, authorities said.

Authorities allege Gupta worked with an Indian government official, who described himself as “senior field officer” with intelligence responsibilities and “directed the assassination plot from India.”

This story has been updated with additional details.

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