Christian Michel, the alleged AgustaWestland middleman, was extradited to India in December 2018 and is lodged at the Tihar Jail in Delhi. It is now being said that his extradition was a part of an "exchange" deal between India and the UAE.

Asian and European diplomatic sources in New Delhi told the Sunday Telegraph that Michel was brought to India from the UAE in a swap deal and that New Delhi sent back Dubai's Princess Latifa in exchange for Michel.

A member of Michel legal team also believes that there was such a deal between the two nations. "That there was a swap deal is my understanding too," he told the daily on condition of anonymity.

Speaking of the issue, Radha Stirling of Detained in Dubai, a non-governmental organisation in the UAE, even accused India and the UAE of violating "standard norms of diplomatic relations." She added that Latifa's capture in India was arranged by Sheikh Mohammed and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Christian Michel
Christian Michel James (C), the alleged middleman in a deal between India and Anglo-Italian helicopter firm AgustaWestland, is pictured in a vehicle while leaving a district court in New DelhiAFP/Getty Images

"The capture of Latifa was reportedly arranged over a phone call between Sheikh Mohammed and Prime Minister Modi; and the extradition of Christian Michel was fast-tracked shortly thereafter," Stirling told the Sunday Telegraph. "This is not the kind of cooperation between states that reflects respect for the rule of law."

Meanwhile, Toby Cadman, an international human rights lawyer, has also said that this is not the first time that Michel extradition has raised such questions. Cadman, who took Latifa's case to the UN and now is also helping Michel's family, said that this swap deal has been spoken about several times and must be investigated.

"It is a matter that will need to be properly investigated and this is a matter which will be taken to the UN," the Times of India quoted Cadman as saying.

"I cannot divulge at this time the nature of the evidence as this will need to be presented to the appropriate judicial authority. I can confirm there are serious concerns as to the nature and procedure concerning the extradition from the UAE to India and that will need to be properly scrutinised."

Michel, an arms consultant, was wanted in India for his role in a bribery scandal in the purchase of 12 helicopters for Indian politicians during the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government.

Princess Latifa was intercepted by the India Navy when she was reportedly fleeing the UAE. She is known to have crossed over into Oman from where she sailed to India. She reportedly hoped to claim political asylum in the US but was stopped half-way by the navy officials.

Before fleeing, the 33-year-old royal had released a video in which she claimed that she was mistreated and tortured. She said that she had been jailed for three years and sometimes even kept in solitary confinement. Latifa had also claimed that she and her sisters were often described as mentally ill and were administered heavy medication.