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Govt may have been posturing on Headley extradition: Wikileaks

New Delhi: The Indian government may have merely been posturing for public consumption in seeking extradition of LeT operative David Headley from the US about two years back, WikiLeaks has indicated.

In a cable to the US State Department on December 17, 2009 released by the whistleblower website, the then US ambassador Timothy J Roemer said former National Security Advisor M K Narayanan had suggested to him that the government was actually not keen on the extradition issue but wanted to be seen doing so.

Narayanan had told him that it was “difficult not to be seen making the effort,” but that the government was not seeking extradition “at this time”.

In the leaked cable, where Roemer was seeking New Delhi’s commitment to not request Headley’s extradition, Narayanan had 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 in the 26/11 attacks.

“He (Roemer) explained that the threat of extradition to India could cause Headley’s cooperation to dry up, but that allowing the US judicial process to unfold or securing a plea agreement that both reflects his overall culpability and ensures his continued cooperation would maximize our ability to obtain further information from Headley,” the leaked cable said.

Roemer highlighted the “unprecedented effort to share intelligence in the case of accused Lashkar-e-Taiba operative David Coleman Headley and conveyed that we (the US) were following up on questions and requests that arose from the information we had already provided in the case,” the cable said.

“He (Roemer) stressed that the Indian government’s discretion in protecting this sensitive information was of critical importance, calling attention to recent media speculation containing details of the FBI briefing sourced to unnamed Indian government officials, which could compromise our ability to obtain further cooperation and information from Headley,” the cable added.

Reacting to this, the NSA had said that he understood and dismissed the media reports as “preposterous”. Roemer also explained to Narayanan that “furthermore, if Headley were convicted, an extradition request by India would not be considered until his sentence in the United States was fully served, which could be decades, if ever.”

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