Vikram Buddhi: Miscarriage of Justice in US Court?

‘They never proved him guilty’

Supporters Of Convicted IITian Vikram Buddhi Slam US Judiciary, Indian Govt Apathy

Vijay Singh | TNN

Mumbai: Feeling deeply let down by a “non-intervening Indian government and a “grossly unfair American court trial’’, the supporters and family of Vikram Buddhi (38), the Indian student jailed in the United States, accused Indian leaders of doing nothing to stop his conviction despite glaring legal loopholes in the US district court case.

An IIT-Bombay graduate and doctoral student of maths at Purdue University in the US, Vikram was sentenced on Friday to four years and nine months in jail for internet posts that expressed hate against former US president George W Bush and vice president Dick Cheney, and calling for the bombing of US sites.

Vikram’s father B K Subbarao, a retired Navy captain and lawyer, told TOI: “This is an adverse and perverse court order against Vikram. In fact, since the very beginning, in April 2006, the prosecution could never prove that Vikram had posted those online messages, yet he has suffered so much.’’

Subbarao added that he had also written to President Obama and US Attorney General Eric H Holder, Jr, pointing out a shocking discrimination against Vikram during the trial. “US District Judge James T Moody withheld from the jury the law of First Amendment (Freedom of Speech) in a case tried as a speech threat case. Judge

Moody shockingly made a special law for Vikram and instructed the jury only on that special law; otherwise my son would have been free long ago,’’ he explained, cautioning that this should alarm all Indians who lawfully entered the US and who live and work there.

After his sentence in Chicago, a calm Vikram also remarked to the US media that the outcome of the trial was grave injustice.

Delhi-based Supreme Court lawyer and activist Somnath Bharti, who had earlier met Vikram in the US prison, said it was ironic that when the federal prosecution was launched in April 2006, the 11-count indictment (charge) did not contain even a whisper about internet messages. “So the entire charge in the court trial is faulty; the case Vikram should have crumbled like a pack of cards, but for some strange reason, he has got nearly five years of jail, said Bharti.

He added in the 10 days Vikram has got to appeal in a higher court, he is trying to raise funds in India and the US to help Vikram get justice. “We’re not seeking mercy but justice. Our Indian leaders, including foreign minister S M Krishna, have seemingly done nothing to help Vikram despite being systematically
briefed about the highly unfair trial,’’ said an angry Bharti.

“Is our nation so meek and afraid of the US that our leaders can’t even ask America to intervene and correct the injustice done?’’ asked Subbarao.

TECHNICAL LOOPHOLES

Threatening internet messages were found on Yahoo space in December 2005 and January 2006. US Secret Service agents enquired about these at Purdue University in January 2006

Purdue official Scott Ksander told the Secret Service the Address Resolution Protocol table was poisoned. In other words, the IP (Internet Protocol) and MAC (Media Access Control) addresses of machines were altered

Thus someone outside the university could have made the messages appear to have originated from Purdue. A concerted technical investigation was never done Ksander, who admitted he was no technical expert, reportedly made crude guesses. He first traced the messages to Purdue graduate student Anthony Cimasko. The Secret Service interrogated Cimasko and let him go. Ksander made another crude guess and pinned the blame on sBuddhi

The Secret Service questioned Vikram and let him go on January 18, 2006

A Secret Service report of February 3, 2006, confirmed there was no threat from Vikram Buddhi to any US leader. During the trial, Secret Service agent Wade Gault said his organisation had indeed made such a report
Vikram was arrested on April 14, 2006

He has been convicted and sentenced to four years and nine months in jail, plus three years under supervision, despite the lack of technical proof.

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