US citizen with Chinese satellite phone held at Bagdogra airport
The arrested person told the police that he and two other US citizens were representatives of Shield AI, a US-based company, and they were in India for drone surveillance training.
The Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) on Saturday arrested a US citizen with a Chinese satellite phone while he was attempting to board a Delhi-bound flight at the Bagdogra airport near Siliguri in West Bengal.
The arrested person has been identified Thomas Esroh Seitz (45).
According to Bagdogra airport sources, three US citizens, including Seitz, arrived at the airport on Saturday afternoon to board a Delhi-bound flight. However, Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) jawans, while checking the luggage of Seitz, detected a Chinese satellite phone.
Airport sources said that there are several restrictions on carrying satellite phones in aircraft in India. As per the rules of the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS), barring satellite phones provided by Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), no other sattelite phones or any other similar devices are allowed to be carried in an aircraft.
Also, for carrying a satellite phone in an aircraft, one needs to obtain authorisation and documents stating the reasons for the same.
However, when questioned by the CISF personnel and the security staff, Seitz was unable to furnish any such document justifying him carrying the device. Thereafter, the CISF arrested him and later handed him over to the local police.
Seitz told the police that he and two other US citizens were representatives of Shield AI, a US-based company, and they were in India for drone surveillance training at an Indian Army base at Lachung in Sikkim.
He claimed that he arrived in India on January 12 and received the satellite device through Air Cargo on January 16. He also said that he was going back after completing the drone surveillance training.
The police have contacted the Indian Army to authenticate the claims made by Seitz.
The police are also investigating whether Seitz got the satellite phone for the purpose of espionage at Indian Army bases.