India complains over US ‘snooping’

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iol news pic NSA US surveillance AP FILE - A sign outside the National Security Administration (NSA) campus in Fort Meade, Md. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

New Delhi - India summoned senior US diplomats on Wednesday and lodged an official complaint over reports that the US National Security Agency snooped on new Prime Minister Narendra Modi's political party in 2010.

External Affairs Ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin said that, if true, such a transgression against the Indian government, its citizens and entities was highly objectionable.

Media reports based on ex-NSA analyst Edward Snowden's disclosures have alleged that the Obama administration in 2010

sought court authorization to conduct surveillance on the Bharatiya Janata Party and other political outfits. BJP was an opposition party at the time but won India's most recent elections and began governing in May.

US Embassy spokesman Raja Bhattacharya said the US does not comment on bilateral communications with host countries.

Media reports about the US snooping have come at a time when India and the United States are trying to repair relations that were strained by the arrest of an Indian diplomat in December.

Deputy Consul General Devyani Khobragade was arrested and strip-searched in New York City. She was accused of lying on visa forms so she could bring her maid to the US while paying her a pittance. Khobragade returned to India in January, but charges are still pending.

Akbaruddin said India expressed its concerns clearly to the United States about disclosures in the past year of other surveillance of Indian government entities.

“In doing so see have also sought an explanation of information contained in these press reports and an assurance that such authorizations will not be acted upon by the US government entities as far as Indian citizens, entities and the government of India are concerned,” he said.

But Washington has yet to respond, he said. “They have said they will get back to us once they make a judgment of what sort of information that they would require to share with us in terms of questions we have asked previously and now,” the spokesman said.


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