By Asia Samachar Team | CANADA |
Indian intelligence agencies attempted to use money and disinformation to “covertly influence” Canadian politicians, reveals a Canadian newspaper quoting ‘a highly sensitive government document’.
The document shows that Canadian security officials suspected India’s two main intelligence branches had asked an Indian citizen to sway politicians in this country into supporting Indian government interests, reports Global News.
The Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and Indian Intelligence Bureau (IB) were allegedly behind the operation, which began in 2009, the newspapers said, attributing the information to the document.
The alleged foreign influence operation was disclosed in Federal Court proceedings involving an Indian national accused by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service of espionage, the report added. The security screening investigation was triggered when the Indian newspaper editor had applied to immigrate to Canada.
In an immediate response, Ottawa-based World Sikh Organization of Canada (WSO) said it was deeply disturbed by the newspaper report, but added that it was not surprised as India has had a long history of interference and espionage in Canada, targeting the Sikh community.
In the statement, WSO president Tejinder Singh Sidhu said: “While we are deeply troubled by the news that Indian intelligence agencies have been attempting to “covertly influence” Canadian politicians with money and disinformation, it is hardly surprising to Canadian Sikhs.
“Indian intelligence agencies have a long history of using media and planted stories to negatively portray Sikhs in Canada. Sikhs have long suffered from the consequences of this foreign interference.”
He said the WSO has regularly raised the issue of Indian espionage and interference in Canada with the federal government.
“We call on the federal government to take immediate steps to clamp down on Indian espionage here in Canada and to ensure that the Canadians can live free from the machinations of foreign governments,” he said.
In the report, Global News had also highlighted the details of the Federal Court judgment in the case of an applicant identified in court records only as ‘A.B’. He is the editor-in-chief of an unnamed Indian newspaper whose wife and son are Canadian citizens.
He allegedly 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, the report noted.
FEDERAL COURT JUDGMENT
The judgment, viewed online by Asia Samachar, published what was described as an ‘undated and unattributed summary’ of what A.B. had allegedly admitted. It says:
“On June 16, 2015, during your interview, you stated that you were approached by both the Indian Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) in the mid-2000s but added that it was not until 2009 that both services requested your formal assistance. You stated that you were tasked by RAW to covertly influence Canadian government representatives and agencies on behalf of the Indian government. You stated that RAW had also tasked you to meet with government officials in Belgium and Canada in an effort to influence their views in favor of the Indian government. You stated that you were told to identify random Caucasian politicians and attempt to direct them into supporting issues that impacted India. You stated that the guidance from RAW included that you were to provide financial assistance and propaganda material to the politicians in order to exert inﬂuence over them. As an example, you stated that you were tasked to convince politicians that funding from Canada was being sent to Pakistan to support terrorism. You stated that you met with your IB and RAW handlers outside of Canada at least once every two months, and that the last time you met with them was in May 2015 (i.e. about one month before the interview took place).”
In his decision, Judge Simon Fothergill said that the immigration officer’s decision rested in large part on the finding that it was implausible for AB to claim he did not supply information to the Indian intelligence services when he met with representatives of those agencies 25 times over several years beginning in the mid-2000s.
“However, AB 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,” he said.
Commenting on the report, Prof. Stephanie Carvin told Global News that while India had long been active in the country, the case was a rare example of its interference with Canadian elected officials.
“To my mind, this is one of the first public examples of evidence of clandestine foreign influence targeted at Canadian politicians” said the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs expert.
The allegation of Indian meddling follows the release last month of a National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians (NSICOP) report on foreign interference.
The newspaper said the NSICOP 200-page document acknowledged that China, Russia and other states were conducting foreign interference activities in Canada and that “elected and public officials across all orders of government” were being targeted. It added that 1.2 million Canadians were of Indian descent, and that some communities were “vulnerable to foreign interference either as targets or as a means of undermining Canadian values and freedoms.”
Two Indian magazines and how they treat Sikh related stories (Asia Samachar, 11 Feb 2018)
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