U.S. treating reported India assassination attempt with ‘utmost seriousness’ – National | Globalnews.ca


The U.S. government says it asked Indian authorities about allegations of a foiled assassination plot targeting a U.S.-Canadian citizen and expects responsible parties to be “held accountable.”.

“We are treating this issue with utmost seriousness, and the U.S. Government has raised it with the Indian Government, including at the senior-most levels. Indian counterparts expressed surprise and concern,” U.S. National Security spokesperson Adrienne Watson said in an emailed statement.

“They stated that activity of this nature was not their policy. Based on discussion with senior U.S. Government officials, we understand the Indian government is further investigating this issue and will have more to say about it in the coming days. We have conveyed our expectation that anyone deemed responsible should be held accountable.”

Click to play video: 'Trudeau says Canada shared ‘credible allegations’ behind murder of Hardeep Singh Nijjar ‘many weeks ago’'

Trudeau says Canada shared ‘credible allegations’ behind murder of Hardeep Singh Nijjar ‘many weeks ago’

Watson was commenting on a report published Wednesday by The Financial Times, citing unnamed sources, that American officials stopped a plot to kill Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, who is general counsel for Sikhs for Justice. This is a group advocating for the creation of an independent Sikh state called Khalistan.

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Pannun, a dual citizen, has been an organizer of a series of Sikh separatist votes in Canada and the United States.

The Financial Times report says the American authorities issued a warning to India’s government over the alleged plot. The report adds it is not clear whether this warning prompted the alleged assassination plot to be halted or the FBI intervened. The U.S. State Department has said little so far.

“We do not comment on diplomatic, law enforcement, or intelligence discussions with our partners,” said a spokesperson. “Upholding the safety and security of U.S. citizens is our highest priority.”

The report comes after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Sept. 18 that Canadian security agencies were pursing “credible allegations”  that agents of the Indian government may have been involved in the killing of a B.C. Sikh separatist Hardeep Singh Nijjar in June. Nijjar was shot and killed by masked gunmen in Surrey, B.C. At the time, Nijjar was organizing a local, non-binding referendum calling on the formation of Khalistan. India has vigorously denied the allegations.

Trudeau did not directly address the report from The Financial Times when asked by journalists on Wednesday morning.

“We have been working closely with our allies, including the Americans, since the middle of the summer. Obviously, we continue to engage with India, hopefully constructively, and we hope that India will continue to take these real concerns seriously,” Trudeau told reporters on his way into a Liberal caucus meeting.

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Click to play video: 'India to resume visa services at high commission, consulates in Canada'

India to resume visa services at high commission, consulates in Canada

Prior to speaking with reporters, Trudeau was on a G20 conference call, chaired by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Trudeau did not directly address whether the report of an attempted assassination being stopped was brought up.

“I re-emphasized how important it is to abide by the rule of law and to engage constructively with each other when we have issues of concern,” Trudeau said.

Trudeau’s Sept. 18 comments instigated a diplomatic row between Canada and India, which saw both nations expel diplomats. India temporarily froze visa services for travellers from Canada. Last month, India eased some visa restrictions for Canadian travellers and unfroze e-visa applications on Nov. 22.

On the Sikhs for Justice Instagram page, Pannun fronts videos highly critical of the Indian government, including calls to boycott Air India in order to bankrupt Indian businesses. In another video, Pannun accuses the Indian government of working to overthrow the Canadian government while talking about the killing of Nijjar.

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Global News has reached out to Pannun for comment.

— With files from Global’s Reggie Cecchini and The Canadian Press.

&copy 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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