India talks up Headley extradition ahead of Obama trip

India talks up Headley extradition ahead of Obama trip

New Delhi:India said on Monday it was pursuing the extradition of an American who pleaded guilty to helping scout targets for the 2008 Mumbai attacks, ratcheting up a contentious issue days ahead of US President Obama’s visit.

India has already said it was disappointed that the United States was not fully forthcoming on sharing intelligence linked to the attack that killed 166 people. Obama is due to arrive in India on Saturday.

Access to David Headley, who is in custody in the United States, and intelligence linked to his visits to India have emerged as thorny security issues between the two countries, despite their increasing cooperation in combating militancy in the region.

“[Extradition] is an option, and as I said we will continue to pursue that option," home minister P. Chidambaram told reporters, referring to Headley.

A top official said last week Washington had not shared information early enough on Headley, despite intelligence with the United States that he had been in India after the Mumbai attack.

US ambassador to India Timothy Roemer has discounted any notion that Washington was withholding information from New Delhi.

Chidambaram said the United States had shared the name of Headley almost a year after the 26 November, 2008 attacks.

“The US did share intelligence with us, in the months leading up to 26/11, although the name David Headley was not mentioned.

“After 26/11 also, the US has shared intelligence with us, and as I have said in the past, intelligence sharing between the two nations is extremely good.

“The name of David Headley was shared with us, I think, sometime in October 2009."

In June, Indian investigators questioned Headley for a week in the United States, noting that while he had provided significant amounts of information they still had further questions.

An Indian intelligence report said Headley told his Indian interrogators that officers from Pakistan’s spy agency were involved in the attacks.