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Did not facilitate access for gatecrasher: Indian Embassy

world Updated: Jan 06, 2010 12:20 IST

PTI
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The Indian Embassy on Wednesday said it did not facilitate the entry of a third gatecrasher to US President Barack Obama's State Dinner for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, after the Secret Service claimed that the individual sneaked in by boarding an Indian delegation bus.

US media has identified the gatecrasher as Carlos Allen, a 39-year-old entrepreneur whose website identifies him as chief executive of Hush Galleria –- "an exclusive and luxurious private social club whose members enjoy unparallelled access to elite movers and shakers".

"The person is not known to the Indian Embassy. We did not seek or facilitate any access for this person," Rahul Chhabra, spokesman of the Indian Embassy, said in a statement.

The Secret Service had on Monday said investigations have revealed that a third individual entered the White House on November 24 without invitation other than the attention-hungry Virginia couple Tareq and Michaele Salahi. It said he came in the bus of the Indian delegation.

Media reports here also suggested that the man travelled in a bus carrying top Indian CEOs, who were last-minute invitees to the State Dinner.

Neither the Secret Service nor the State Department or the Indian Embassy has revealed the identity of the person so far but in various media interviews, Allen's attorney conceded that his client is indeed the person in question. At the same time, he claimed that Allen was invited.

"He participated in the reception, he participated in the dinner; we're not denying that," A Scott Bolden, Allen's lawyer, told The New York Times.

"This whole issue of him being a third gatecrasher, while it merits more investigation, he's unlike the other two individuals who are subject to this investigation. He did stay for the dinner," the lawyer was quoted as saying.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs refused to entertain question on this issue at his daily press briefing on Tuesday saying that it is a subject of criminal investigation.

In what could be seen as a major security breach to both the White House and the Indian delegation, Allen is said to have travelled to the White House on November 24 evening from Willard Continental hotels -- where the Indian delegation and the Prime Minister were staying -- in a vehicle along with about half-a-dozen top Indian CEOs.

It is understood that the Indian CEOs -- who were part of the official Indian delegation -- were a last minute invitee to the State Dinner. The invitation for them was received the same day and the arrangement for their smooth entry into the White House was made within hours by the State Department at the request of the Indian Embassy.

"The Embassy had requested for arrangements to be made for invited Indian CEOs who were part of the CEOs' Forum and were staying at the Willard Hotel to be taken to the State Dinner," Chhabra said. The Indian Embassy did not release the names of the CEOs who were in that group.

The vehicle carrying CEOs along with Allen was part of a convoy of vehicles carrying members of the delegation. But it did not include the Prime Minister and the Minister of External Affairs, who went to the White House later in the evening.

"It appears at this point that the subject travelled from a local hotel, where the official Indian delegation was staying, and arrived at the dinner with the group, which was under the responsibility of the Department of State," the Secret Service said.

"This individual went through all required security measures along with the rest of the official delegation at the hotel, and boarded a bus/van with the delegation guests en route to the White House," the statement said.

However, at this point of time it appears that this individual did not went through the receiving line or had contact with the President or the First Lady.

Like other Indian CEOs and members of the Indian delegation, who were screened by the Secret Service at The Willard, Allen too was screened.

However, it is not clear as to how he managed to get himself screened. It is very well possible that the Secret Service thought that he was a member of the Indian delegation while the members of the Indian Security team travelling with the Prime Minister considered him to be part of the State Department official machinery.