INTERNATIONAL

Former Canada intelligence officials say US indictment confirms Trudeau’ allegations against India

Two former heads of Canadian intelligence have said that the indictment in a Federal Court in the United States related to an alleged thwarted attempt to kill Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) general counsel Gurpatwant Pannun has substantiated Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s statement in the House of Commons that there were “credible allegations” of a potential link between Indian agents and the murder of Khalistani figure Hardeep Singh Nijjar on June 18 in Surrey, British Columbia.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau makes a housing announcement in Ajax, Ontario Canada November 30, 2023. (REUTERS)

Former National Security Advisor Richard Fadden told the outlet CBC News that the indictment of Indian national Nikhil Gupta in a Federal court in New York “gives weight” to the statement made by Trudeau on September 18.

“I suspect that the police in Canada and the United States have been talking about these things under the radar for some time,” he added.

Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc said in the House on Thursday that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) was “continuing to collaborate with American law enforcement partners” with regard to Nijjar’s murder.

Fadden also headed the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), as did Ward Elcock, who agreed with him on Trudeau’s allegation being validated by developments in America. Elcock told the outlet Global News, “I thought the fact that the Prime Minister actually made such an announcement in the House suggested that they had pretty strong intelligence. So, yes, this does pretty much confirm it.”

According to the indictment, Gupta mentioned a “big target” in Canada. In a call, he also apparently talked of “four jobs” — three of them were to be in Canada — and later shared a video of the slain Nijjar with a man he thought was a hitman he had hired to kill Pannun. The hitman, in reality, was a US intelligence agent, the indictment said. The indictment added that Gupta was arrested by Czech authorities on June 30 under an extradition treaty between the US and the Czech Republic.

However, neither was certain whether an actionable case could be made out in Canada. Fadden said, “It may be difficult to bring a case before the Canadian courts in the absence of some of the sorts of information that seems to be in the US indictment.”

Elcock was similarly minded about the investigation being conducted by the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT) in British Columbia. “My suspicion is that the people who carried out the attack are probably long gone wherever they came from,” he said, adding, “So, the likelihood of an ultimate prosecution seems pretty unlikely at this point. Not impossible, but pretty unlikely.”

While India has ordered a high-level inquiry related to the US case, such action has yet to be taken with regard to Canada’s demand, with India’s High Commissioner to Ottawa Sanjay Kumar Verma saying in a TV interview on Sunday that Canada had yet to provide “specific and relevant” information. India has also maintained that the actions being attributed to its officials were not part of government policy.

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