Karnataka e-portal hacking: Brother of accused moves HC after being denied to leave country

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The elder brother of a hacker accused of stealing Rs 11.5 crore from an e-procurement portal of the Karnataka government has approached the Karnataka High Court over a January 13 move by immigration authorities preventing his departure to Netherlands.

Sudharshan Ramesh, 31, an engineer with a firm in Netherlands and the brother of Srikrishna Ramesh, aka Sriki (26), who has been accused of robbery, hacking online poker sites, and Bitcoin exchanges, was stopped at Bengaluru International Airport on January 13 by immigration authorities reportedly following the instructions of the Enforcement Directorate and the Ministry of Home Affairs.

In a petition filed against the MHA, Bureau of Immigration and the ED, Sudharshan Ramesh has said that he has been questioned on a few occasions by the Central probe agency in connection with an alleged scam involving his younger brother, but he has no connections with his actions as he lives in the Netherlands.

The engineer has stated that his rights have been violated by the authorities by stopping him from flying out of Bengaluru on January 13.

Sudharshan has stated that he had travelled to Bengaluru in August 2021 to look after his father Gopal Ramesh, a Parkinson’s patient, who had recently had a head injury after falling down. He added that he was due to return to the Netherlands by January 27 in order to retain a Dutch residence permit.

“It is pertinent to note that the petitioner has no prior information of such antecedent as he was not in India at the relevant point of time since his stay in the Netherlands for the last eight years,” a plea filed by Sudharshan read.

The 31-year-old has said that he responded to an ED notice seeking his appearance for questioning in November last year with regard to the alleged scam and that he has not been accused in the scam or called for further questioning by the ED since November 2021.

By preventing him from traveling back to the Netherlands, authorities have infringed on his fundamental right to life as guaranteed under Article 19 and 21 of the Constitution, he has stated.

The alleged hacking of the e-procurement and international bitcoin exchanges by Srikrishna had led to a major controversy last year following allegations by the Opposition Congress party in Karnataka of the involvement of people in high positions who are protecting the gang.

The Bengaluru police had arrested Srikrishna in November 2020 in a case of buying drugs on the internet using Bitcoin.

Srikrishna, who has a degree in computer science from Netherlands, had returned to India in 2017, while his elder brother continued staying there. In a voluntary statement given to the police during the course of the investigation, Srikrishna has stated at multiple points that he was involved with a hacking incident at the Bitfinex exchange while being part of a group in the Netherlands.

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