SYDNEY: Nijjar killing update, Australia’s domestic spy head has strengthened the support that the “Five Eyes” nations have extended to Canada by declaring that there is “no reason to dispute” the country’s allegations that the Indian government was involved in the death of a Canadian citizen.
In the lower house of parliament last month, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated that there were “credible allegations” of a possible connection between Indian government operatives and the shooting death of Canadian Sikh Hardeep Singh Nijjar, who India considers to be a terrorist.
Australia Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) director general Mike Burgess questioned about his evaluation of Canada’s accusations in an interview with Australia’s ABC News.
Also Read: BTL | Hardeep Singh Nijjar Murder Case
“I don’t see any reason to disagree with the Canadian government’s statement on this issue,” he answered.
India had brushed off the accusations as “biased” and “motivated,” repeating that it had never been concerned about what pro-Khalistani groups were up to in Canada. Following the expulsion of a senior Indian diplomat by Canada, India likewise expelled a Canadian diplomat. Along with calling on Canada to reduce the number of its diplomatic posts, India also halted the issuance of visas for citizens of Canada.
The US ambassador to Canada David Cohen had explicitly linked the Canadian accusation to the five eyes intelligence network. “There shared intelligence among Five Eyes partners that helped lead Canada to making the statements that the Prime Minister made.” He said, in an interview to CTV News, a Canadian news channel. The US has repeatedly asked India to join the Canadian investigations.
Australia is also member of the Five Eyes network which is an intelligence-sharing alliance that also includes the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and New Zealand.
The ASIO chief also echoed the Australian reaction that the allegations made by Canada were serious.
“There’s no doubt any allegation of any country being accused of carrying out an execution of a citizen in that country. It’s a serious allegation, and something that we don’t do and something that nations should not do,” he said.
The interview took place on the sidelines of the Five Eyes summit in the US.
As per the ABC report, Burgess did not confirm whether the India issue discussed at the summit.
When asked whether Australian Sikhs could be next target for Indian agents, Burgess answered, “Our job is to look for espionage and foreign interference. When we find it, we deal with it effectively. Whether or not it will happen here, I wouldn’t publicly speculate, I don’t think that’s appropriate. I can assure you that when we find governments interfering in our country, or planning to interfere in our country, we will deal with them effectively
He observed that “multiple countries” had tried to interfere in Australian society, citing Iran’s attempt to target an Iranian-Australian.
The ASIO head noted that in multi-cultural societies. There are often tensions associate from their home countries which find resonance in the diaspora.
“For us, that plays out in society, you see protests, counter-protests, and sometimes there’s communal violence or spontaneous violence. That’s not a nation state seeking to interfere and covertly or deceptively harm and intimidate people. Of course, if we see that, we will act,” he added.