The United States of America’s National Security Agency (NSA) had received official permission to covertly spy on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and had added the Hindu-nationalist party into its top-secret surveillance list.
In 2014, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden had released certain classified documents to the media, which revealed that America’s top spying agency was authorised by a US court in 2010 to carry out surveillance on the BJP along with five other political organisations across the world.
Besides BJP, the US court had given the go-ahead to spy on Lebanon’s Amal, the Bolivarian Continental Coordinator of Venezuela, Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, Egyptian National Salvation Front and the Pakistan Peoples Party. The document revealed that the National Security Agency (NSA) had sought permission from the court to carry out surveillance on six political parties worldwide.
“These are the entities about which the NSA may conduct surveillance for the purpose of gathering foreign intelligence,” the reports said, citing documents released by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
More than 193 countries, including Indian government was spied by NSA
According to top-secret documents Snowden published through the Washington Post in July 2014, the US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court provided NSA with a “broad leeway” to conduct surveillance upon not only these six political parties but also a list of 193 foreign governments – including India. Only four countries were off-limits under this programme, the report said.
“The United States has long had broad no-spying arrangements with those four countries – Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand,” the Post had reported.
However, the agency had defended its move saying that they collected foreign intelligence based on specific intelligence requirements set by the President, the Director of National Intelligence, and departments and agencies through the National Intelligence Priorities Framework.
The documents had also disclosed that the FISA court had authorised the NSA to spy on the Internet and telephone communications of the World Bank, United Nations, OPEC, and the European Union.
Interestingly, the scandalising report had come in July 2014, just a month after BJP had stormed into power in India under the leadership of Narendra Modi. Incidentally, the US administration had almost for a decade denied Narendra Modi, who was then the Chief Minister of Gujarat, a visa and blacklisted him over the 2002 Gujarat riots.
However, after the stupendous victory in the 2014 victory, the United States of America offered an olive branch to Prime Minister Modi and had vowed to work closely together with the Indian PM “for years to come”.