x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

India denies Snowden asylum, defends US surveillance programmes

India's foreign minister has defended the vast US surveillance programme of phone logs and internet data revealed by intelligence leaker Edward Snowden.

NEW DELHI // India's foreign minister today defended the vast US surveillance programme of phone logs and internet data revealed by intelligence leaker Edward Snowden.

"Some of the information they got out of their scrutiny, they were able to use it to prevent serious terrorist attacks in several countries," Salman Khurshid told reporters in Brunei.

"This is not scrutiny and access to actual messages. It is only computer analysis of patterns of calls and emails that are being sent ... it is not actually snooping on the content of anyone's messages or conversations," he added.

India's foreign ministry yesterday said it saw "no reason" to grant a request for asylum from Mr Snowden that it received on Sunday.

The comments by Mr Khurshid, who met the US secretary of state John Kerry in New Delhi last month, contrast with India's initial reaction when a foreign ministry spokesman warned that any privacy violation would be "unacceptable".

Mr Khurshid is attending an Asian security forum in Brunei, along with Kerry and regional foreign ministers.

Based on documents provided by Snowden, The Guardian newspaper reported at the weekend that US intelligence services were also spying on 38 embassies and diplomatic missions of its allies including India.

Mr Snowden, whose US passport has been cancelled, remains holed up in Moscow's airport where he has sought asylum from 21 countries.