US spy agencies provided information to Ottawa after the assassination of a Sikh separatist leader in the Vancouver area, but Canada has developed the most definitive intelligence that has led it to accuse India of to have orchestrated the plot, according to Western allied officials.
In the aftermath of the killing, U.S. intelligence agencies presented their Canadian counterparts with the context that helped Canada conclude that India had been involved. Yet what appears to be the “smoking gun,” namely intercepted communications from Indian diplomats in Canada indicating their involvement in the plot, has been collected by Canadian officials, allied officials said.
While Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken has called on India to cooperate with the Canadian investigation, U.S. officials have largely tried to avoid triggering a diplomatic backlash from India. But the revelation of the involvement of American intelligence services risks trap Washington in diplomatic battle between Canada and India at a time when that country wants to develop New Delhi as a closer partner.
The United States did not become aware of the plot or evidence of Indian involvement in it until after agents killed the Sikh leader, Hardeep Singh Nijjar, »Allied officials said.
Two men beaten down Mr. Nijjar, a Canadian citizen who had advocated the independence of a Sikh-majority region of India, in the Vancouver area on June 18.
Before the killing, Canadian officials told Mr. Nijjar that he was in danger. Several of Mr. Nijjar’s friends and associates said he had been repeatedly warned about threats against him and was warned to avoid the temple.
After his death, U.S. officials told their Canadian counterparts that Washington had had no advance information about the plot and that if U.S. officials had, they would have immediately informed Ottawa under the “duty” doctrine. to warn” intelligence agencies, according to two allies. civil servants.
The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss what has become a diplomatic firestorm, said Canadian officials offered Mr. Nijjar a general warning but did not tell him he was the target of a conspiracy by the Indian government.
The United States regularly and automatically shares enormous quantities of intercepted communications with its closest intelligence partners, including Canada. But the contextual information about the murder was deliberately shared as part of a set of diverse intelligence feeds.
A White House spokesperson declined to comment. U.S. officials were reluctant to discuss the assassination because while Washington wants to help Canada, a close ally, it does not want to alienate India, a partner with which it hopes to broaden ties to counterbalance influence. growth of China in Asia.
This accusation created a diplomatic rift between Ottawa and New Delhi, leading each to expel the other’s intelligence agents and India to suspend visas for Canadians.
Nonetheless, the killing and the Indian government’s alleged involvement shocked officials in Washington. While democratic countries carry out targeted assassinations in unstable countries or regions and the spy services of more authoritarian governments – notably Russia – orchestrate assassinations wherever they wish, it is unusual for a democratic country to carry out a secret and murderous action in another democracy.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Canadian officials have refused to release details of the intelligence Canada has collected on India. Canadian officials say it is important not to compromise the Royal Canadian Mounted Police’s investigation into the killing.
Allied officials would not describe in detail the intelligence shared by the United States.
A Canadian government official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive information, said the government had received intelligence from several countries.
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reported earlier that the Canadian government had collected communications from Indian diplomats in Canada.