US intelligence agencies provided information that led Canada to hold India responsible for Khalistan leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar’s killing, according to Western-allied officials, The New York Times reported.
Following Njjar’s killing on June 18 outside a Sikh temple in British Columbia, “American spy agencies offered their Canadian counterparts context that helped Canada conclude that India had been involved.”
However, the two allied officials, who spoke to the newspaper on the condition of anonymity, said the “most definitive intelligence” on the killing was collected by Canada.
The report coincides with US Ambassador to Canada David Cohen’s claims that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s allegation against India was based on “shared intelligence among Five Eyes partners”.
Other than Canada, the five eyes intelligence sharing network is made up of the US, the UK, Australia and New Zealand, and was founded in 1946.
The US remained unaware of the plot, or evidence linking India’s involvement in it, until after operatives had killed Nijjar, allied officials said, adding that if US officials had they would have immediately informed Ottawa under the intelligence agencies’ “duty to warn” doctrine.
Further, they said that the Canadian officials had also warned Nijjar, but “had not told him that he was the target of an Indian government plot”.
“The United States routinely, and automatically, shares huge amounts of intercepted communications with its closest intelligence partners, including Canada. But the contextual information about the killing was shared deliberately as part of a package of various intelligence streams,” The Times report said.
The NYT reached out to a White House spokesman who declined to comment. According to the report, the US officials were reluctant to discuss the killing because America wants to maintain a fine balance between both its allies.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has urged India to cooperate with Canada and ensure “accountability” over Nijjar’s killing.
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly on Friday, Blinken said the US has been in touch both with India, with which it has warming ties, and Canada, a close ally.
“We want to see accountability. And it’s important that the investigation runs its course and leads to that result,” Blinken said.
After claiming that Indian agents played a role in the murder of Canadian citizen Nijjar on Canadian soil, Trudeau on Thursday called on India to cooperate on the investigation.
He said that Canada shared evidence on Nijjar’s killing with India “many weeks ago”.
Trudeau’s accusation has led to a diplomatic spat between India and Canada with New Delhi rejecting Ottawa’s claims as “absurd and motivated”, followed by tit-for-tat expulsions of senior diplomats and travel advisories.