State secrets revealing the details of Indian Navy submarines and warships have reportedly been leaked to Pakistani intelligence operatives by an Indian spy in exchange for crypto, an offense punishable by death.
As reported by local media, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) accused Manmohan Surendra Panda of spying for Pakistani operatives before selling the confidential naval documents.
The Mumbai resident allegedly exchanged India’s classified information with an operative identified as ‘Harsh’ and received payment through “crypto channels” for his spy work. He supposedly received the crypto payment from various other Pakistani operatives.
Panda is charged with spying under Section 3 of The Official Secrets Act (OSA), conspiracy towards acts of terrorism under Section 18 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, and destroying evidence under Section 201 of The Indian Penal Code.
According to The OSA, the penalty for spying “where the offence committed is… in the interest or for the benefit of a foreign power, or is in relation to any work of defence, arsenal, naval, military,” can carry the death penalty or 14 years in prison.
Wife and husband sold submarine secrets for crypto
A similar instance occurred in 2021 when an American couple decided to sell confidential information relating to US nuclear submarines in exchange for $100,000 of the privacy-oriented crypto Monero.
The couple offered snippets of confidential documents to someone they believed represented a foreign power but was, in fact, an undercover FBI agent.
They uploaded the documents onto SD cards before hiding them in everyday objects and placing them in designated drop-off points. Some of the inconspicuous items included a peanut butter sandwich, a chewing gum packet, and band-aid packaging.
The couple pleaded guilty to the espionage plot in 2022. Jonathan Toebbe was sentenced to over 19 years in prison while his wife, Diana Toebbe, received more than 21 years.