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Updated: March 20, 2010 09:54 IST

'Headley extradition still possible'

PTI
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Home Minister P. Chidambaram with Home Secretary G.K. Pillai during a press conference in New Delhi. File photo: R.V. Moorthy
The Hindu Home Minister P. Chidambaram with Home Secretary G.K. Pillai during a press conference in New Delhi. File photo: R.V. Moorthy

The extradition of Pakistani-American David Coleman Headley to the country was still possible as there were additional charges against him, Home Secretary G.K. Pillai said. However, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia Robert Blake ruled out extradition of Headley

India said on Friday the extradition of Pakistani-American David Coleman Headley to the country was still possible as there were additional charges against him, which were not part of the plea bargain he had entered into with the United States.

“If there are other offences, which are not covered under the plea agreement, then of course extradition is still possible,” Home Secretary G.K. Pillai said when asked about the chances of India being able to get Headley extradited.

Asked whether he meant to say that the country had more proof to seek Headley's extradition, Mr. Pillai replied in the affirmative.

“Oh yes. There are other charges, which do not come under the 12 counts [on which he had pleaded guilty and which is part of the plea agreement],” he said.

Mr. Pillai said India had “excellent cooperation” with U.S. agencies, which had been handling Headley.

“So far as this cooperation is concerned, we can't really complain except that we could not get access to him earlier... now that a bargain plea has been entered we are hopeful that we would get direct access to Headley,” the Home Secretary said.

Mr. Pillai had earlier said the Indian government would be “satisfied” if Headley, who pleaded guilty in a U.S. court to his involvement in the Mumbai attacks, was awarded a life sentence.

“The U.S. Attorney-General has advised a sentence of life imprisonment. If he gets a sentence of life imprisonment, I don't think government of India will be unsatisfied,” he said.

Mr. Pillai added that other details such as the terror suspect's accessibility for questioning by India, interrogation or giving testimony had to be worked out in the coming weeks.

U.S. rules out extradition

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia Robert Blake, who is here on a visit, on Saturday ruled out extradition of Headley but said India would have “full access” to all the information from him.

However, Mr. Blake said he was not in a position to answer if an Indian team could go to the U.S. to question Headley. “... I cannot answer that question because I was not in the U.S. during that period but I encourage you to be in touch with our Justice Department,” he said.

Mr. Blake said Headley pleading guilty before a Chicago court to terror charges, including the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, had showed how the threat of the Lashkar-e-Taiba had “grown significantly” and asked Pakistan to work more on that front.

He said that Pakistan had made “important progress on the issue of terror but there was still work to be done.

“...We still think that there needs to be progress on the 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.”

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