India will have “full access” to all the information on terror suspect David Headley, who pleaded guilty before a Chicago court to all 12 terror charges including the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, U.S. Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs Robert Blake said here on Friday.
However, he said he was not in a position to answer if an Indian team could go to the US to question Headley.
”... But I think you will have full access to all the information and whether or not an Indian team itself can go there, I cannot answer that question because I was not in the US during that period but I encourage you to be in touch with our justice department,” Mr. Blake said.
Mr. Blake, who is on a visit to Afghanistan and India, said Headley’s confession had showed how the threat of LeT had “grown significantly” and asked Pakistan to work more on that front.
He said Pakistan has made “important progress on the issue of terror but there is still work to be done.”
”....We still think that there needs to be progress on LeT in particular. The Headley case in our view illustrates the increasing global scope and ambition of LeT and therefore, the need for all of our countries to take the LeT threat seriously and cooperate with each other.”
India may quiz Headley across table
India today said that a “lighter” sentence of less than 20 years for the US terror accused David Headley will be a matter of concern and Government will initiate the process for getting him interrogated “across the table“.
Government sources also fear that there could be a hidden deal between Pakistani-American Headley and the US Government under which he could get a lighter sentence of much less than 20 years after which he may even get a new identity and be free under the witness protection scheme in the US.
While being not much optimistic about getting Headley extradited to India, officials said that National Investigation Agency (NIA) will file a charge sheet against Headley and his accomplice Pakistani-Canadian Tahawwur Rana to enable his “questioning across the table” in the case.
After his appearance in a Chicago court yesterday under the plea bargain agreement, the US Attorney General has said that Headley as agreed to “fully and truthfully testify in any foreign judicial proceedings held in the US by way of deposition, video conferencing or Letters Rogatory”.
The NIA has registered a case against Headley and Rana for allegedly conspiring to wage a war against the country and under various sections of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
Government is watching with caution the plea bargain made by Headley under which if he continues to cooperate fully he could press for a downward impeachment, implying lesser punishment.
The sources said that the Government has evidence of offences committed by Headley in India besides the 12 counts for which he has pleaded guilty.
If need be, the security agencies can register a fresh case and seek his extradition in case the punishment was much below the expected lines, a senior official said.
The official said one of the gains of the case is that the US has now accepted that there were “players” other than the LeT terrorists in the conspiracy behind Mumbai terror strikes.
India has been maintaining that regular Pakistani army personnel have been involved in the Mumbai attack conspiracy and recently a dossier on two Pakistani Army majors in this connection was handed over to Pakistan Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir.