The BJP-ruled Indian government has taken a strong exception to recent reports, which revealed that the party and the Indian government were spied upon by the National Security Agency of the United States. The government is likely to lodge a "strong protest" in Washington.
Whistle-blower Edward Snowden on Monday revealed through documents published by The Washington Post that the National Security Agency (NSA), the United States' top spy agency, had carried out surveillance of the Bharatiya Janta Party along with other organizations such as the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and the Pakistan People's Party.
The documents claimed that the NSA was authorized by a US court in 2010 to carry out surveillance of foreign political parties such as Lebanon's Amal, Egyptian National Salvation Front, The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, the Pakistan People's Party, and the Bolivarian Continental Coordinator of Venezuela along with India's Bharatiya Janata Party.
Apart from the BJP, the Indian government itself featured on the list of 193 foreign governments that were approved for surveillance by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
Just days away from US Secretary of State John Kerry's visit to the country later this month, the government is likely to summon the US envoy to India or convey a protest through ambassador S Jaishankar over the matter, according to The Times of India. Apart from Kerry, US Senator John McCain and US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns are also expected to visit India this month.
The Ministry of External Affairs has termed the NSA surveillance as "an invasion of privacy" and completely "unacceptable".
"Our view is pretty clear that it is extremely disconcerting that privacy laws in India are undermined. Whether it is individuals or organisations, we have raised this issue with the authorities concerned in the U.S. as well as through our embassy. If the reports are correct, we will follow the same process," Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said during a media briefing.
According to the documents released by Snowden, a former NSA contractor himself, the list included the "entities about which the NSA may conduct surveillance, for the purpose of gathering foreign intelligence".
NSA spokesperson Vanee Vines told the Press Trust of India that "the agency collected foreign intelligence based on specific intelligence requirements...set under the National Intelligence Priorities Framework".
According to the Washington Post, the NSA is authorized to survey and intercept all but four countries, namely Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand.
The news about India being on the surveillance list of the NSA comes a year after reports had revealed that the Indian embassy in Washington was being spied upon by the security agency among other foreign missions.
The Indian government has summoned a top US diplomat to respond to reports that India and the Bharatiya Janata Party were on the radar of the National Security Agency (NSA) of the Unites States following an authorization certifiacte in 2010.
"We expect a response to be provided to us, and if these are true, an assurance that this will not happen in the future," a governement official told Reuters.
Currently, there is no US Ambassador in New Delhi, after former ambassador Nancy Powell resigned. Kathleen Stephens is serving as the interim ambassador.