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Ex-Amnesty Int'l India chief Aakar Patel stopped at airport, goes to court

Ex-Amnesty Intl India chief Aakar Patel stopped at airport, goes to court

Bengaluru: Former Amnesty International India chief Aakar Patel alleged on Wednesday that he was stopped from leaving India at the airport here as Immigration officials told him that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has issued a lookout circular against him.

He tweeted that he was put on the exit control list in connection with a case filed against Amnesty India International by the CBI. "CBI officer called to say I am on the look-out circular because of the case Modi government has filed against Amnesty International India," Patel said in a tweet shortly after he was stopped from leaving India.

Patel said he was prevented from travelling to the US despite a Gujarat court order granting him permission "specifically" for the trip.

The CBI sources, however, said that Patel was granted permission to travel to the US by a Surat court in a case registered by the Gujarat police, but the Look Out Notice was opened against him and subsequently, he was stopped from leaving India on Wednesday in connection with another case registered by the agency against Amnesty International India and others for alleged Foreign Contributions Regulation Act (FCRA) violations pertaining to Rs 36 crore foreign fundings. Patel approached a CBI court in Delhi later on Wednesday seeking directions to the agency for the removal of the Look Out Circular issued against him.

The court has asked the CBI to respond to Patel's plea in which he also sought permission to travel to the US to deliver lectures at three universities — Michigan University, Berkley University and New York University.

The matter will be taken up by the court on Thursday morning at 10 am.

"I did not know about it that I could not fly. I missed my flight and now I am back home. They (Immigration officials) did not let me go," a national news agency quoted Patel as saying. The CBI raided the premises of human rights watchdog's offices in Bengaluru and New Delhi in November 2019. About 15 CBI officers had visited Amnesty office in Indiranagar, a posh locality near the central business district in Bengaluru taking away details pertaining to multiple compliances, organisation structure and others.

In 2018, the Enforcement Directorate raided the Amnesty International India office in connection with a foreign exchange contravention case.

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