India to take up ‘snooping’ issue with U.S.

A file photo of the Indian Embassy in Washington.  

The government has promised to take up with the United States reports that India’s Washington mission was under close surveillance by the National Security Agency, but shrugged off criticism of External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid’s statement on Tuesday that seemed to let the U.S. off the hook.

“Obviously, we are concerned at such disconcerting reports and we will certainly raise with U.S. authorities these serious allegations,” official spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said. But the Foreign Office felt Mr. Khurshid’s statement from Brunei was about his discussions with the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry about the U.S. PRISM programme which, it was being claimed, was a huge computer analysis of calls and e-mail being sent from one location to another.

“This is a separate issue,” Mr. Akbaruddin said about the second tranche of reports leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden that suggested the Indian embassy was a target, along with 37 other missions, through “an extensive range of spying methods.”

This issue of being spied upon under a U.S. programme codenamed Dropmire will be taken up by India during the next Cyber Security Dialogue with the U.S.

As for the first revelation that India was the fifth most targeted country by another NSA programme, the spokesperson said Mr. Khurshid was mentioning an explanation given last month by Mr. Kerry that the PRISM programme (Dropmire had not been exposed then) did not read e-mails and messages but simply tracked the pattern. This was what Mr. Khurshid also said on Tuesday and for this he was accused of being supine.

The spokesperson’s explanation notwithstanding, the fact is that India did reverse its stand on the PRSIM’s trawling of Indian internet traffic. When Mr. Snowden’s revelation about PRISM was first published, Indian officials had termed it an “unacceptable” violation of privacy.

Mr. Khurshid’s turnaround, a fortnight later, came around the time New Delhi decided to dismiss Mr. Snowden’s plea for political asylum. But it has chosen to reserve some indignation over the second revelation — that an Indian mission was among the targets of extensive U.S. snooping into contents of communications.

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Printable version | Oct 21, 2021 5:25:18 PM |

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