NSA ‘spied on Indian diplomats’

AFP-JIJI

The U.S. National Security Agency targeted India’s embassy in Washington and its U.N. office in New York with sophisticated surveillance equipment that might have resulted in hard disks being copied, a report said Wednesday.

The Hindu newspaper said the Indian offices were on a top-secret list of countries chosen for thorough surveillance.

The NSA “selected India’s U.N. office and the embassy as (a) ‘location target’ for infiltrating their computers and telephones with hi-tech bugs,” the paper said, citing a secret internal NSA document.

It said India’s missions were marked for various snooping techniques, including one called “Lifesaver” that “facilitates imaging of the hard drive of computers.”

India and the U.S. have put past difficulties behind them and become firm allies over the last decade, with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh set to meet U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington on Friday.

The Hindu’s report gave more detail on previous revelations published in The Guardian in July that 38 embassies and diplomatic missions were targeted by the NSA, including India’s.

New Delhi has previously defended widespread snooping on Internet users and phone calls by U.S. intelligence agencies, saying such scrutiny had helped prevent “terrorist attacks.” But the Foreign Ministry expressed concern about suspected spying on its diplomatic missions in July and said it would raise the issue with U.S. authorities.

The revelations are likely to see calls from India’s opposition for the government to take a harder line with Washington.