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NSA snooping: India summons US diplomat
July 2, 2014, 7:44 am

President Barack Obama speaks to the media while meeting with his cabinet members in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, July 1, 2014 [AP]

President Barack Obama speaks to the media while meeting with his cabinet members in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, July 1, 2014 [AP]

The Indian government on Wednesday summoned a top US diplomat in New Delhi after reports that the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party was targeted by the US National Security Agency (NSA) in 2010.

Although the Indian Ministry of External Affairs has not divulged which US diplomat was summoned, Indian media reports are suggesting it is US interim ambassador Kathleen Stephens who came in after former US Ambassador Nancy Powell resigned from her post.

Reacting strongly to the reports, India has said it was “totally unacceptable” that an Indian organisation or Indian individual’s privacy was transgressed upon. India also sought an assurance from the US that it will not happen again.

The now ruling party, the BJP, was then in the opposition when the agency got the nod for spying.

The papers released by The Washington Post however does not specify whether the spying was actually carried out.

“The NSA is not necessarily targeting all the countries or organizations identified in the certification, the affidavits and an accompanying exhibit; it has only been given authority to do so,” says the report.

India also noted that it had raised the issue with the US administration in Washington and the Embassy in New Delhi in July and November last year when reports emerged that NSA had spied upon individuals and entities and said it was still “awaiting a response from American on this”.

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

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

The document lists the 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 Washington Post had cited documents provided to it by Snowden.

The issue could snowball into a diplomatic impasse especially as Indian Prime Minister and leader of the BJP, Narendra Modi already holds a deep sense of grievance with the United States for denying him a US visitor’s visa in 2005 because of US concerns that he violated religious freedoms as a political leader.

Modi is expected to visit the US in September this year.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff had last year canceled a state visit to the US after leaked NSA files revealed the US intelligence agency intercepted Brazilian communications and spied on Rousseff and her aides and on the state-owned Petrobras, the largest company in Brazil and one of the 30 biggest businesses in the world.

Rousseff had earlier said the US spying program was “economic espionage”. In November last year, the “right to privacy” resolution, drafted by Brazil and Germany, was passed by the UN rights committee.

 

 TBP and Agencies

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