Former National Security Advisor denies WikiLeaks cable on Headley's extradition

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Chennai:  Former National Security Advisor (NSA) M K Narayanan has said that India is "serious about David Coleman Headley's extradition" contrary to recent revelations by WikiLeaks that suggested that the government may have been merely posturing for public consumption on the issue.

In a leaked cable released by the whistleblower website, Mr Narayanan, the then NSA, seemed to have suggested to the American Ambassador in December 2009 that the government was not keen on seeking the extradition of the 26/11 accused Headley but wanted to be seen doing so.

Timothy Roemer, then US Ambassador to India, in the cable sent to the US State Department on December 17, 2009, said that Mr Narayanan had told him on the issue of Headley's extradition that it was "difficult not to be seen making the effort," but that the government was not seeking extradition "at this time."

According to the cable, Mr Narayanan in response to Mr Roemer seeking New Delhi's commitment to not request Headley's extradition, said the Indian government would be "in the hot seat" if it were seen as pre-emptively relinquishing extradition of one of the main accused of the 26/11 attacks.

The former NSA, reacting to the revelations, said that India was "interested in David Headley's information and extradition".

"There is no question about the fact that we are serious about his extradition. We are interested about information about him," the West Bengal Governor told reporters.

He also declined to comment on the communication between the US officials.  "How can I comment on what communication has been made by American officials to his government. Why don't you ask the American Ambassador," he shot back.

Asked about the cable quoting him as saying that India's demand for Headley's extradition was "just political posturing," Mr Narayanan said neither he nor anyone else could believe that there was such a possibility.

"This question you should address to the Americans. You can't ask this question quite clearly because as far as we are concerned we are interested in Headley's information and his extradition".

The former chief of the Intelligence Bureau (IB) insisted that US officials should be asked as to what made them write so and reiterated India's "right intentions" to bring Headley to India while holding that what the Americans write is "up to them."

"I can't believe it if anybody believes it to be a possibility. But anyway, you should ask this to them. what made them write this. Ask the Americans, they are writing what they like," he said.

(With PTI inputs)


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