Political wiretap scandal erupts in India

Outlook magazine

Outlook magazine

By IAN ALEN | intelNews.org |
A major scandal has erupted in India, with the revelation last weekend that government intelligence services have monitored the telecommunications of senior political figures since at least 2006. Indian newsmagazine Outlook, which is published nationwide, reported on Sunday that the left leaning government of the United Progressive Alliance and the Indian National Congress ordered intelligence officers to tap the telephone communications of several politicians. The list allegedly included Bihar state chief minister Nitish Kumar, Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Prakash Karat, and minister for agriculture Sharad Pawar. According to Outlook, the government also used powerful communications interception hardware to “listen in on the conversations of opposition leaders during the July 2008 no-confidence motion on the Indo-US nuclear deal”. The deal between Washington and New Delhi prompted the resignation of the CPI(M) from India’s governing alliance. The magazine quotes a senior intelligence official, who says that the tappers intercepted targeted telecommunications signals exchanged between cell phones and cell phone towers, which apparently voided the standard requirement for official court warrants. Speaking on Monday, Indian interior minister Palaniappan Chidamabaram vouched that a government investigation of the scandal will be conducted.

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Expert news and commentary on intelligence, espionage, spies and spying, by Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis and Ian Allen.

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