New Delhi– An editor of a national news outlet has been accused of working for Indian intelligence agencies to “covertly influence” Canadian politicians against Khalistanis.
The revelation was reported by Canadian newspaper Global News, which claimed to accessed documents related to a federal court proceedings in a case related to the editor accused by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) of espionage.
The accusation is significant in view of the diplomatically disastrous India trip of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in 2018. Perturbed at Trudeau’s support for Khalistanis (Sikh separatists), while Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the time had refused to meet him, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh raised the issue with him during their meeting.
Trudeau had also been slammed for the presence of attempted murder-accused and Khalistani separatist Jaspal Atwal in official functions.
On Friday, the newspaper said that the editor accused of espionage has been identified in court records only as “A.B.,” whose wife and son are Canadian citizens.
The CSIS has told the court that India’s two main intelligence agencies, Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and Intelligence Bureau (IB), attempted to use money to “sway” Canadian politicians “into supporting Indian government interests” beginning 2009.
The editor, the CISIS has alleged, “met Indian intelligence more than 25 times over six years, most recently in May 2015, a month after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Canada.”
However, the Canadian newspaper said the Indian national has denied allegations that he had been “covertly tasked by Indian handlers,” and said that he had only met the intelligence agencies in the capacity as an editor.
Global News said that although he said he had refused to work for them, the Indian intelligence agencies wanted him to “act as an unofficial lobbyist or diplomat.” One of his tasks, the CSIS has alleged, was “to convince politicians that funding from Canada was being sent to Pakistan to support terrorism.”
The security screening investigation was triggered when ‘A.B.’ applied to immigrate to Canada, the newspaper said.
“Canada refused to allow A.B. into the country on the grounds he was engaged in espionage, but the court overturned that decision because it was based on a summary of his alleged statements rather than a transcript.”
Global News reported that the court said the decision to exclude him from Canada rested largely on an immigration officer’s finding that it was implausible that he did not supply information to Indian intelligence officers, given how frequently he met them.
“However, A.B. is a journalist and editor-in-chief of a newspaper. It is not inconceivable that he would meet with government sources every other month while maintaining his journalistic independence,” the court ruled.
In accusing him of espionage, the immigration officer had relied on an “undated and unattributed” summary of his interview with Canadian authorities, which the court ruled was unreasonable, the newspaper said.