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NIA investigators complete Headley interrogation; details unknown

A team of Indian investigators completed week-long interviews with key Mumbai terror plotter David Coleman Headley without revealing any details about their contents under a joint US-India arrangement.

world Updated: Jun 11, 2010 09:01 IST

A team of Indian investigators completed week-long interviews with key Mumbai terror plotter David Coleman Headley without revealing any details about their contents under a joint US-India arrangement.

"Headley and his counsel agreed to the meetings and Headley answered the Indian investigators' questions over the course of seven days of interviews. There were no restrictions on the questions posed by Indian investigators. To protect the confidentiality of the investigations being conducted by both India and the United States, both countries have agreed not to disclose the contents of the interviews," a statement by the Justice Department said.

The 49-year-old Pakistani American, who pleaded guilty on March 18 to all 12 federal terrorism charges, admitting that he participated in planning the November 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai, as well as later planning to attack a Danish newspaper, has been lodged at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Chicago. He is awaiting sentencing and cooperating with Indian and any other foreign investigators is part of his plea bargain agreement which precludes the death sentence as well as extradition from the United States.

The Indian team representing the National Investigation Agency (NIA) was led by Loknath Behera and had been in Chicago since early last week. They conducted the interviews away from the media glare. It is possible that not disclosing anything to the media was part of the ground rules set by Headley's attorney John Theis. It was not even revealed where Headley was questioned. There was a virtual news blackout until today when the Justice Department issued a short statement.

Sources who may not necessarily have firsthand knowledge of what transpired in the interviews said that keeping the details of Headley's answers under wraps may have been prompted by the need not to compromise any active leads that both US and Indian investigators may be following currently.

Although Headley has been in detention since last October there is reason to believe that he had made enough inroads into outfits such as the Lashkar-e-Taiba to still produce actionable intelligence.