New Delhi: United States Ambassador to Canada, David Cohen, has said it is the “shared intelligence among Five Eye partners” that has prompted Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to go public with his explosive allegations against the Indian government that its agents were involved in the killing of Sikh leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar.
‘Five Eyes’ network is an intelligence alliance comprising the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. It is both surveillance-based and signals intelligence (SIGINT).
“There was shared intelligence among Five Eyes partners that helped lead Canada to making the statements that the Prime Minister made,” said Cohen, in an exclusive interview to CTV News, a Canadian news channel.
He also said there was “a lot of communication” between Ottawa and Washington in relation to Trudeau’s allegations.
The US envoy’s remarks came also after CBC news had reported that some of the evidence was “provided by an unnamed ally in the Five Eyes intelligence alliance”. The news division of the Canadian Broadcasting Division had cited government sources to report that Ottawa had both human and signal intelligence involving Indian officials, including diplomats posted in Canada, to link them to the death of Hardeep Singh Nijjar.
Earlier on Friday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that Ottawa had shared the “credible allegations” with India “many weeks ago. However, India continues to stand by its earlier statement made by the Ministry of External Affairs that “no specific information” was shared by Canada.
Cohen’s comments come after the US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, had called on India to “cooperate” with Canada’s investigation, while asserting that Washington was “vigilant against any instances of transnational repression”. He had also said that the US had been “not just consulting”, but also “coordinating” with Canada on this diplomatic fracas.
Blinken’s remarks were further preceded by US national security advisor Jake Sullivan who observed that no country could get a “special exemption” for such activities, like the allegations made by Canada of the involvement of Indian government agents in Nijjar’s killing. Sullivan had also urged India to join the investigation.
He also denied a Washington Post report which had said that Canada had reached out to its closest allies, including the US, asking them to openly condemn the murder of its citizen weeks before Trudeau went public with allegations against India. “Very bluntly, I will say that – and you know me well enough – that I’m not in the habit of commenting on private diplomatic conversations,” Cohen said.
“Look, I will say this was a matter of shared intelligence information,” he continued. “There was a lot of communication between Canada and the United States about this, and I think that’s as far as I’m comfortable going.”
On being asked if there is any hesitancy on the part of Joe Biden’s administration to side with Canada on the allegations, Cohen said, “The US takes very seriously these allegations. And, you know, if they prove to be true, it is a potentially very serious breach of the rules-based international order in which we like to function. We think it’s very important to get to the bottom of it.”