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No restrictions during Headley's interrogation: US

world Updated: Jun 11, 2010 12:56 IST

Indian investigators have concluded questioning of Mumbai terror attack plotter David Coleman Headley with the US Justice Department saying the team faced "no restrictions" during the seven-day probe of the Pakistani-American.

The direct access given to the four-member team of National Investigating Agency (NIA) to interview 49-year-old Headley after protracted negotiations was described by India and US as "useful and successful" in the efforts by the two countries to meet the challenge of terrorism.

The team led by Loknath Bahera has headed back home after the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) operative, who has confessed to his involvement in the Mumbai terror attack on November 26,2008 in which 166 persons were killed, anwsered its questions.

"Headley and his counsel agreed to the meetings (with the Indian investigators) 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," said a statement from the US Justice Department.

The statement also said that both India and the US have agreed not to disclose the contents of the interviews to protect the confidentiality of the investigations being conducted by the two countries.

The team arrived in the US on May 31 and their face-to-face interviews with Headley began on June 3. Headley is being being held in the federal lock-up Metropolitan Correctional Centre in Chicago.

US Ambassador Meera Shankar told PTI, "This (the questioning) took place over several days, beginning from June 3, 2010, and the team is now returning to India on the conclusion of a useful visit.

"The Government of India attaches importance to this in investigating the full dimension of this heinous act of terrorist violence. The support and cooperation extended by the US authorities is appreciated and is in keeping with the commitment of the two countries to strengthen their cooperation in meeting the challenge of terrorism," she said.

The Justice Deparatment said, "As part of the cooperation and partnership between the US and India in the fight against international terrorism, Indian law enforcement officials were provided direct access to interview David Coleman Headley."

In a separate statement issued by the US Embassy in New Delhi, the US Ambassador to India Timothy Roemer hailed the cooperation between the Indian team and their American counterparts throughout this process.

Roemer, who had said the Obama Administration is burning midnight oil to allow India access to Headley, is currently in Washington.

"The Headley interviews were historic in the nature of security cooperation. This strategic partnership is significant, substantive, and highly successful," Roemer said, adding, "this strategic partnership is significant, substantive, and highly successful."