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India court jails ex-diplomat for spying for Pakistan

New Delhi court says sensitive information was passed to Pakistan by low-level embassy staffer in Islamabad.

Nuclear rivals India and Pakistan

An Indian diplomat convicted of passing state secrets to Pakistan's intelligence services has been jailed for three years, her lawyer said Sunday.

Madhuri Gupta was found guilty in a New Delhi court on Friday of "spying and wrongful communication of information" while posted to the Indian embassy in Islamabad.

Gupta, 61, was arrested in 2010 for allegedly passing information to the ISI, the intelligence agency of India's archrival Pakistan.

The low-level diplomat was initially sentenced for breaches of India's official secrets act and held for two years before she was released on bail.

Joginder Dahiya, Gupta's lawyer, said she would appeal the sentencing in a higher court.

"She has already been in custody for about 21 months. She should have been released on the basis of the time she has already spent in jail," he told AFP news agency.

The Press Trust of India (PTI) news agency reported that Gupta avoided a longer sentence, as the information she passed to Pakistani handlers was not military in nature.

As a second secretary, Gupta was among the lowest ranked officials at the highly-sensitive embassy in the Pakistani capital.

She has always denied the charges and claims she was falsely implicated by embassy and foreign ministry officials with whom she had a strained relationship.

However, the court determined that Gupta does not deserve leniency in her punishment.

The information "passed on by the accused (was) categorically sensitive information, which could have been useful to the enemy country ... and its secrecy was of utmost importance," PTI cited the court as saying.

The court identified her action as an attempt to tarnish India's reputation and compromise its security.

Indian police say Gupta had been under surveillance for six months before being taken into custody in 2010.

Nuclear rivals India and Pakistan routinely accuse one another of sending spies into their countries, and it is not uncommon for either nation to expel diplomats accused of espionage.

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