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Greenpeace, others sought US intervention after action by India: Wikileaks

india Updated: Oct 24, 2016 01:31 IST
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Greenpeace activists fly a hot air balloon depicting the globe next to the Eiffel Tower ahead of the 2015 Paris Climate Conference, known as the COP21 summit, in Paris, France, November 28, 2015. (REUTERS)

Environmental groups such as Greenpeace and other international NGOs working in India had sought US government intervention after their funding came under increased scrutiny of the Modi government, according to emails released by the Wikileaks.

The emails, hacked from the email account of John Podesta, who is the chairman of the Clinton Campaign, also indicates the global funding links of these NGOs, including those environmental groups opposing a massive mining project in Australia being undertaken by the Adani Group.

“Adani is very close to (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi -- so this will be a delicate diplomatic challenge,” Sergio Knaebel, grant director of the Sandler Foundation, wrote in an email to Podesta on May 27, 2015, months after he left the White House to be the Chairman of the Clinton Foundation.

Based out of San Francisco, the Sandler Foundation till 2015 had charitable grants of more than $750 million to various NGOs globally working in areas like environmental protection, labour, education, and human rights.

The Sandler Foundation among other things have funded the Sunrise Project, which is opposing Adani’s $21.7 billion mine project in Australia.

“The situation for NGOs in Australia is also getting pretty serious. The Abbot government has set its sights on organisations fighting the expansion of coal and for protecting the reef -- and is looking to withdraw charitable status and out foreign donours in an effort to cast the NGO’s work as foreign intervention.

“Same playbook as India (and Canada),” Knaebel wrote in an email to Podesta.

Podesta did not make any commitment, but forwarded to Knaebel a series of email exchanges he had with Karen Sack from Ocean Unite, another environmental group.

Sack is currently the managing director of Washington- based Ocean Unite.

Before joining Ocean Unite, she was senior director for International Oceans at The Pew Charitable Trusts where she helped initiate the Global Ocean Commission.

Before that, she was the Head of Greenpeace International’s Political and Business Unit and the Head of their international oceans campaign.

“What’s going on in India is concerning. There are some interesting linkages between the coal industry there and in Australia,” Sack wrote on May 27, 2015.

“Adani, the coal billionaire from India is the person who plans to invest in building a coal port just near the Great Barrier Reef, which has people up in arms down under.

“The fascinating thing is that some of the big banks are refusing to invest in the port development project because of the potential risks to investors from the uncertainty,” she told Podesta in the email.