Briton Jailed in India Goes on Hunger Strike, Asks BoJo to Enact Sanctions Against Modi Gov't
The United Nations-backed Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) this year described Christian Michel's detention as "arbitrary". The Indian foreign ministry refuted the criticism, saying that "due process" of law has been followed in extraditing the British national from Dubai to India, as well as during his trial phase.
Christian Michel, a British national jailed in Delhi's Tihar Jail for allegedly being a middleman in a high-profile military helicopter sale scam, has gone on an "indefinite hunger strike" starting Thursday, one of his lawyers told Sputnik.
In a nine-page letter written by Michel to UK Prime Minister Boris Johsnon, he asked the British government to “sanction” Indian government officials under Magnitsky legislation for their “violation” of global human rights. In the letter, made public last week, Michel threatened a hunger strike if his demand wasn't met.
His lawyer says that getting released from jail isn't his primary demand.
Michel has been in the Indian jail since December 2018, when he was flown in from Dubai on a special aircraft. He is accused of being a middleman in a high-profile chopper scandal. According to Indian investigative agencies, top Indian officials and politicians were bribed in 2010 to swing a contract to procure 12 helicopters in favour of Italy-headquartered firm AgustaWestland. The choppers in question were to be used to ferry the Indian prime minister, the president and other top government officials.
The bribery allegations first surfaced in 2012. Two years later, the Indian government, then headed by the Congress Party (now the main federal opposition), cancelled the deal.
In his letter, Michel claimed that his extradition from Dubai to India in December 2018 was conducted as a quid pro quo deal, as part of which Indian authorities handed back UAE’s Princess Latifa to Emirati rulers. Latifa is the daughter of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the prime minister of the UAE and the ruler of Dubai.
In March 2018, she attempted to flee from what she claimed was her father’s custody, and embarked on a yacht voyage via Oman to India, from where she had planned to travel to the United States. Her yacht was reportedly intercepted by the Indian Coast Guard and the Marine Commandos (MARCOS) near the western coast of Goa, and she was taken back to the UAE.
According to recent media reports, Latifa was last pictured in Iceland earlier this year.
11 August 2021, 05:12 GMT
What Else Does the Letter Say?
Michel alleged that he has been “languishing” in the Indian jail “without trial” or “charge” for the last three years, which he says violates his human rights.
He has further claimed that the Dubai ruler “requested Modi to kidnap his daughter, who had only 7 days earlier escaped from Dubai.”
“Modi, in return, demanded my rendition from Dubai to India,” he claimed, citing court proceedings before a UK Family Court.
Michel says Modi's actions were due to the fact that he was “misinformed” by a “senior Italian politician” about Michel being the “main financier” of the Gandhi family. Sonia Gandhi is the current head of India’s main opposition Congress party.
The letter also claims that Indian authorities forced him to sign a “false confession statement” naming Congress MP Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi in the defence scandal. Michel says that the demand was made during a meeting in Dubai.
Michel claimed that hasn’t signed any such statement.