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Indian American charged with hate crime against Sikh nonprofit staff

The man also faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison for communicating an interstate threat.

Washington:

An Indian-American man from Texas has been charged with a federal hate crime for making interstate threats against employees of a Sikh nonprofit organization.

Bhushan Athale, 48, faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison for obstructing government-protected activities by threatening to use a dangerous weapon, the Justice Department said in a statement.

He also faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison for communicating an interstate threat. Both charges are punishable by a fine of up to $250,000, the statement said.

According to the complaint filed on September 17, 2022, Athale allegedly called the phone number of an organization that advocates for the civil rights of Sikhs in the United States.

He is said to have left seven voicemails in which he expressed his “extreme hatred” towards the Sikhs active in the organization and threatened to “injure or kill” these people “with a razor blade,” the statement said.

Athale's voicemails allegedly contained “violent images and obscenities” and “references to places, people and beliefs that have special significance within the Sikh religion,” it said.

In March, Athale allegedly called the organization again and left two more voicemails – this time targeting Sikhs and Muslims.

The Justice Department said the investigation showed that Athale had a “long history of religious comments and threats” and had also previously used a professional networking site “to express to a former colleague that he 'hates'[d] Pakistan” and “Hate[d] Muslims”.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)