RAW Tried To Woo Canadian Leaders Through ‘Indian Editor’: Report

“Indian intelligence agencies tried to use money, disinformation to covertly influence Canadian politicians”: report

4 min read
RAW Tried To Woo Canadian Leaders Through ‘Indian Editor’: Report

In Canada, Indian intelligence agencies are being accused of trying to “covertly influence” Canadian politicians into supporting the Indian government’s interests.

According to a report in Global News, the news division of the Canadian Global Television Network, “Indian intelligence agencies attempted to use money and disinformation to ‘covertly influence’ Canadian politicians, according to a highly sensitive government document”.

“Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and Indian Intelligence were allegedly behind the operation, which began in 2009”.
Document accessed by Canada’s Global News

At the centre of the allegations lies an Indian citizen, who is said to be a current or former editor, referred to as ‘AB’ by Canadian authorities to keep his anonymity. His wife and child are said to be Canadian citizens.


The Mysterious ‘Indian Editor’

The allegations of influence by Indian agencies came up due to proceedings in a federal court in Canada involving AB.

“He (AB) allegedly met Indian intelligence more than 25 times over six years, most recently in May 2015 — a month after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Canada”
Report in Global News

The court proceedings took place after AB’s application for a permanent resident’s visa was rejected by an immigration official, accusing him of being involved in espionage. AB subsequently appealed for a judicial review against the decision.

The Quint has accessed the court’s judgment regarding the case A.B. v. Canada (Citizenship and Immigration), 2020, delivered on 31 March 2020.

The Allegations

The allegations of the Canadian authorities are mostly based on an interview given by AB to the Canadian High Commission in New Delhi on 16 June, 2015. The case was argued by the office of Canada’s Attorney General. These are some of the allegations made against AB by the Canadian authorities in the federal court:

  • “On June 16, 2015, during your interview, you stated that you were approached by both the Indian Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) in the mid-2000s but added that it was not until 2009 that both services requested your formal assistance.”
  • “You stated that you were tasked by RAW to covertly influence Canadian government representatives and agencies on behalf of the Indian government. You stated that RAW had also tasked you to meet with government officials in Belgium and Canada in an effort to influence their views in favor of the Indian government.”
  • “You stated that you were told to identify random Caucasian politicians and attempt to direct them into supporting issues that impacted India. You stated that the guidance from RAW included that you were to provide financial assistance and propaganda material to the politicians in order to exert influence over them.
  • “As an example, you stated that you were tasked to convince politicians that funding from Canada was being sent to Pakistan to support terrorism”.
  • “You stated that you met with your IB and RAW handlers outside of Canada at least once every two months, and that the last time you met with them was in May 2015 (i.e. about one month before the interview took place).”

While rejecting AB’s permanent resident visa application, the Canadian Immigration official said, “ You met with representatives of this foreign intelligence agency more than 25 times over a six-year period after you were tasked with such activities”.

I find that there are reasonable grounds to believe that you were tasked by a foreign intelligence agency to covertly influence Canadian government representatives, including through guidance to provide financial assistance
Immigration official on AB’s application

AB’s Denial

In his testimony to the court, ‘AB’ categorically denied any affiliation with Indian intelligence services. These are the key points of his denial as given in the court document:

  • “AB explained that all his contact with the IB and RAW occurred in the context of his profession as a journalist”.
  • “AB did not deny his numerous contacts with Indian intelligence officials. Nor did he dispute that he was asked by the IB and RAW to perform various functions; however, he maintains that he always refused.
  • “AB disputes the accuracy of certain words attributed to him in the summary, including ‘tasked’, ‘covertly’ and ‘handlers’.
However, significantly AB acknowledged that he was also “asked to act as an unofficial lobbyist or diplomat” by the Indian agencies.

India’s Lobbying in Canada

While the court allowed for judicial review and for AB’s case to be redetermined by a different immigration officer, the admission that he was asked by Indian agencies to act as an “unofficial lobbyist or diplomat” is significant.

According to an expert from the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs cited by Global News, “To my mind, this is one of the first public examples of evidence of clandestine foreign influence targeted at Canadian politicians”.

The allegations of covert influencing by RAW in Canada comes barely a month after a crucial report on “foreign interference” was released by the country’s National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians (NSICOP), which is the equivalent of a standing committee in the Indian parliament.

The report stated that several countries were conducting foreign interference activities in Canada and that “elected and public officials across all orders of government” were being targeted. The focus was particularly on Russia and China.

“A great deal of foreign interference has the goal of creating a single narrative or consistent message that helps to ensure the survival and prosperity of the foreign state,” the report said.

Much of India’s lobbying is said to be linked to Canada’s sizable Sikh minority. India has accused elements in Canada of fostering the Khalistan movement. On the other hand, several Canadian politicians like Jagmeet Singh and Gurratan Singh have consistently spoken out against violence against minorities in India.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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