US spying on BJP puts shadow on Modi’s visit

Efforts by the US president Barack Obama and prime minister Narendra Modi to put relations between the two countries on the track have run into rough weather following disclosure that Washington sought and obtained legal authorisation to spy on the BJP among a few political factions and parties that were singled out for attention by the USA. The reports about US spying on BJP may ‘force’ the party to rethink on Modi’s visit to America in September.

Stating that reports of spying on BJP by the USA were ‘serious’, union minister Prakash Javadekar on Tuesday said the government would take up the matter after ‘cross-checking’ the facts. The minister’s comments came in response to reports that America’s National Security Agency (NSA) was authorised by a US court in 2010 to carry out surveillance of BJP along with five other political organisations across the globe.

‘This is serious. We will definitely see what has actually happened. If some organisation was targeted... it is serious. We will definitely take up the issue after we cross-check the facts,’ Javadekar, the information and broadcasting minister, told reporters here. BJP general secretary Rajiv Pratap Rudy said the matter was of ‘deep concern’ and needed to be authenticated. The ministry of external affairs must respond appropriately, he added.

‘Edward Snowden’s revelation of spying of BJP needs to be authenticated. If true, MEA must respond appropriately. (It is) a matter of deep concern,’ Rudy said. The in-charge of BJP’s media cell, Shrikant Sharma, said, ‘It is a serious matter. If there is any truth in media reports then the government will look into it.’ Apart from BJP, spying of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and Pakistan People’s Party, among others, was also authorised, according to classified documents provided by former NSA contractor Snowden and made public yesterday by ‘The Washington Post’.

Other foreign organisations on the surveillance list include Lebanon’s Amal, the Bolivarian Continental Coordinator of Venezuela and the Egyptian National Salvation Front. The document lists 193 foreign governments as well as foreign factions and other entities that were part of a 2010 certification approved by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. The list includes India.
‘These are the entities about which the NSA may conduct surveillance for the purpose of gathering foreign intelligence,’ the paper said citing documents provided to it by Snowden.
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