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India summons top US diplomat over snooping row

Thursday, 3 July 2014 - 6:55am IST | Place: New Delhi | Agency: dna

India on Wednesday summoned a top US diplomat here after reports that National Security Agency (NSA) had sought permission to spy on the Bharatiya Janata Party in 2010.

The government said it was “totally unacceptable” that an Indian organisation or Indian individual's privacy was transgressed upon. It also sought an assurance from the US that it will 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 judgment on what kind of information they are required to share on the questions asked by India, previously and now.

The US currently has an interim ambassador, Kathleen Stephens, who came in after Nancy Powell resigned from her post.

Meanwhile, US senator John McCain'a visit to India on Wednesday too was overshadowed by the spying controversy. McCain canceled the news conference due to be held outside India's foreign ministry and his other political engagements were also canceled.

McCain, whose Arizona constituency is host to some of Boeing and Raytheon's most important defence businesses, had told the Senate last week that Washington should seek to help India's economic and military development. US secretary of state John Kerry is also expected to visit India soon.

India had reacted sharply when the reports of snooping by NSA came to light after revelations by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden last year.

Earlier, New Delhi also noted that, when reports emerged that the NSA had spied upon individuals and entities, it had raised the issue with the US administration in Washington and the Embassy here in July and November last year. 

BJP figures in the list of foreign political parties along with Lebanon's Amal, Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood and the Pakistan Peoples Party on whom the NSA was given permission to carry out surveillance, says the document made public on Monday by The Washington Post.

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 had said, citing documents provided to it by Snowden.

Meanwhile, John McCain met external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj on Wednesday. It was the first high-level interaction between the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre and the US Congress.




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