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India can't quiz Headley, Rana: US official

By Lalit K Jha and Ajay Kaul
Last updated on: November 28, 2009 10:51 IST
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The United States, which foiled a major terror plot by the Lashkar-e-Tayiba to target India, has cited legal limitations in allowing Indian investigators to interrogate arrested operatives David Coleman Headley and Tahawwur Rana.

US National Security Adviser James Jones said President Barack Obama has shown personal interest in the Headley-Rana case and the matter was discussed during his meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday.

"It is something that the President and the prime minister discussed and both of them were very satisfied with the outcome of those discussions," Jones said.

The terror plot was foiled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation which arrested Headley, a Pakistani-origin American national, and Rana, a Pakistan-born Canadian citizen, from Chicago in October.

He said Obama has given instructions to US authorities to share information with India regarding the Headley-Rana case, despite the limitation posed by the country's legal system.

"At the President's direction, we have been very forthcoming with our Indian counterparts on sharing whatever information we have that might be of some assistance to (India)," Jones said, adding, "as a result of the President's guidance, we are doing as much as we can legally, without jeopardising the process of the case."

He, however, said the US was unable to allow Indian investigators access to the arrested LeT operatives because certain aspects of the American legal system protect the rights of the accused.

"There are certain aspects of our legal system that protect the right of the accused. In our system, those rights are protected," Jones said, adding the US was in "the process of explaining (to India) what we can and can't do."  

A team on Indian investigators was recently in the US to question the two individuals so that they can further their own investigations. However, they returned without gaining access to either of the arrested accused.


"We have shared (details with India), we are cooperating fully," said Jones.


He, however, refused to give any details about the assistance extended by the US to India in the case, even as he described it as a 'good example' of cooperation. "The Headley case is in a judicial process right now. I do not want to say anything that in any way might jeopardise it," the US national security adviser said.


"There is quite a bit to go on this particular case. But let me say that this case is a good example of a cooperation that started here," Jones said.


After foiling the plot, the US investigators are understood to have given details of the interrogation of the duo and leads, which are being followed up by Indian investigators.


On the basis of the leads, Indian investigators have unearthed a number of links of Headley and Rana, including the number of times they visited India, the places they visited and the persons they came in contact with.


When queried as to why the Indian investigators were not allowed to question Headley and Rana, Jones said, "I have given you the answer that I can give you. We will continue to be as helpful as we can be."


"We are going to do everything we can within our capabilities and respecting our legal boundaries," Jones said.

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