Czech court rules Indian man can be extradited to US, justice minister to decide

PRAGUE (Reuters) – A Czech appeals court has ruled that Prague can extradite to the United States an Indian man accused by the U.S. of involvement in an unsuccessful plot to kill a Sikh separatist on American soil, the Justice Ministry said on Friday.

A final decision on the extradition of Nikhil Gupta, 52, will be in the hands of Justice Minister Pavel Blazek once the ruling is delivered to all parties in the case, a ministry spokesperson told Reuters.

Gupta has been accused by U.S. federal prosecutors of working with an Indian government official on the plot to kill a New York City resident who advocated for a sovereign Sikh state in northern India.

Gupta was arrested by Czech authorities in June last year when he travelled from India to Prague.

Czech news website, which first reported on the appeals decision, said Gupta had argued his identity was mistaken and that he was not the man the United States was looking for. He described the case was political, it said.

“The time frame for the minister’s decision cannot be assumed at this point,” the Justice Ministry spokesman said, adding that Gupta could be expected to take all steps possible to try to prevent extradition.

The minister has three months to turn to the Supreme Court in case he has doubts about the lower court’ decisions, the spokesperson said.

The Prague High Court rejected Gupta’s appeal against a December decision by a lower court that ruled that extradition is allowed.

A spokesperson for the Prague High Court declined immediate comment.

The Czech Republic has in the past agreed to U.S. extradition requests.

A lawyer for Gupta did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Czech news website quoted the lawyer as saying he would ask the minister not to extradite Gupta, and would also take the case to the Constitutional Court.

(Reporting by Jan Lopatka, Editing by Timothy Heritage)