Millennium Post

Snooping reports: India calls top US envoy, says it is ‘highly objectionable’

Reacting strongly to reports of BJP being spied upon by US National Security Agency (NSA), India on Wednesday summoned a top US diplomat here to raise the issue, saying it was ‘highly objectionable’ and ‘unacceptable’ and sought an assurance that it would not happen again.

‘As a government, we have already communicated to the US government and we have said that we have seen reports in the US media regarding authorisation given to entities of the US government to intrude upon the privacy of communication of Indian government, its citizens and its entities. Now, we have also asked the US government if such intrusions had indeed been authorised and taken place. And our view is that, should this have happened, these are highly objectionable,’ the spokesperson in the external affairs ministry said here.

However, the Spokesperson did not say who was the US diplomat summoned by the MEA, merely stating that the ‘messenger is not important’ but the message, which was communicated ‘clearly, lucidly to the US government and we will wait for the response’.

According to him, India has been told that US will revert once they make a judgement on what kind of information they are required to share on the questions asked by India, previously and now. Significantly, the US currently has an interim ambassador, Kathleen Stephens, who came in after former US ambassador Nancy Powell resigned from her post.

He said that, as has been the case in the past one year in response to similar disclosures of surveillance of Indian government entities previously, the country’s concerns have been expressed clearly to senior officials of the US embassy here. ‘And, in doing so, we have also sought an explanation on the information contained in these press reports and the assurance that such authorisation will not be acted upon by the US government entities as far as Indian citizens, Indian entities and government of India is concerned,’ he said.

According to a document made public on Monday by The Washington Post, BJP figures in the list of foreign political parties along with Lebanon’s Amal, Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and the Pakistan Peoples Party for which NSA was given permission to carry out surveillance. ‘These are the entities about which the NSA may conduct surveillance for the purpose of gathering foreign intelligence,’ the daily had said, citing documents provided to it by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
Asked if these reports will have an adverse impact on Indo-US ties, the spokesperson said ‘let’s wait for the outcome’ of the US response and added that the ties were broad-based and multi-faceted’.
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