Conveying its serious concern over reports that the BJP was among parties which the US National Security Agency (NSA) was authorised to spy upon, India Wednesday summoned a senior US diplomat and sought an explanation on the issue.
External affairs ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said India has clearly explained its concerns to the US government and sought an assurance from the country that any such authorisation will not be acted upon.
He said intrusion of privacy of individuals and institutions was highly objectionable.
“We have already communicated to the government of the United States. We have said that we have seen reports in the US media regarding authorisation given to entities of the US government to intrude upon the privacy of communications of the Indian government, its citizens and Indian entities. If such intrusions have indeed been authorised and have taken place, these are highly objectionable,” Akbaruddin said.
According to a report in the Washington Post, India was among 193 countries “concerning” whom the NSA has been authorised to intercept information by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
The NSA exempted only four countries – Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand – “in a group known collectively with the US as the Five Eyes” from such surveillance, the newspaper reported.
The US has had broad no-spying arrangements with these four countries, the Post said, citing a new set of top secret documents leaked by Edward Snowden, a former NSA contractor-turned-whistleblower who has been given asylum in Russia.
India figures in the list of “193 foreign governments as well as foreign factions, political organisations and other entities that were part of a 2010 certification approved by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court”, said an accompanying exhibit cited by the newspaper.
The Bharatiya Janata Party, which leads the ruling National Democratic Alliance government, was one of the six non-US political parties across the globe that the NSA received official permission in 2010 to covertly spy upon, the Post reported.
Akbaruddin said the government had conveyed its message “clearly and lucidly” and will wait for a response from the US.
“(We have) sought explanation of press reports and sought an assurance that such authorisation will not be acted upon by the US as far as Indian government or entities are concerned,” he said.
Asked about the response of the US official, he said the US has conveyed that it will get back after making judgement on what information it would like to share.
Akbaruddin did not name the US diplomat to whom India conveyed its message.
Akbaruddin had Tuesday termed the revelations that that BJP was among the foreign political parties authorised to spy upon by NSA, as totally unacceptable and “extremely disconcerting”.
India has in the past raised with US the issue of its intelligence apparatus trawling electronic communications, mainly e-mails.