India plays down reports of US snooping at diplomatic missions

New Delhi, July 2 (IANS) India Tuesday sought to play down reports of the US cyber snooping at diplomatic missions, including at the Indian embassy in Washington, saying it was merely a “computer study of patterns” and the issue was discussed during the visit of US Secretary of State John Kerry here last week.

“I don’t think we should be raising it to such a high level…that it becomes a matter of serious question. It is only a computer study of patterns – meaning destination. It is not snooping,” Khurshid said in Brunei where he has gone to attend meetings with the ASEAN countries.

“This is not scrutiny, and access to actual messages. It is only a computer study and a computer analysis of patterns of calls,” he said.

“There are issues that America is looking at. We discussed it during Kerry’s visit. Kerry and (US President Barack) Obama have clarified, there is some information that they get out of scrutiny and they use it for terrorism purposes.”

He said India and the US have a cyber security dialogue during which such issues are discussed.

“As far as we are concerned there are no issues at stake,” he added.

Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal said the “government is looking at what is the nature of information being sought, and let the external affairs ministry first find that out”.

According to media reports, US spies eavesdropped on European diplomats in EU buildings in Washington DC. German magazine Der Spiegel reported that computers were also hacked so the US had access to computer files and emails.

The latest disclosures come days after fugitive former CIA agent Edward Snowden blew the whistle on massive data mining by America’s National Security Agency (NSA), using its top-secret Prism programme.

India has said earlier that it would be “unacceptable” if it is revealed that the cyber snooping has infringed on the privacy laws of Indian citizens.

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