Did US keep secret Indian Army data leak to China?

While the US aircraft survived the collision, it had to force-land at Lingshui airfield on Hainan Island inside Chinese territory.

New Delhi: Despite knowing that a United States’ Navy spy plane — that had fallen into Chinese hands — was carrying secret information related to India’s military and security, the US may have sought to keep the information hidden from India, says a document, reportedly from the US government, marked “Top-Secret” and leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The US Navy spy plane, an EP-3E electronic surveillance aircraft operating over the South China Sea on a sensitive mission to monitor the signals and environment of the Peoples’ Republic of China targeting China’s South China Fleet’s tactical communications, radars and weapons systems, collided with a Chinese F-8-II fighter on April 1, 2001.

While the US aircraft survived the collision, it had to force-land at Lingshui airfield on Hainan Island inside Chinese territory. The 24-member US crew was detained and repatriated to the US after 11 days in captivity.

The document, titled “EP-3E Collision: Cryptologic Damage Assessment and Incident Review” Final Report, which is supposed to be a review and assessment of the incident on the orders of the US Navy and the US’ National Security Agency (NSA) — admits that to the fact of “US SIGINT (signals intelligence) System and/or EP-3 targeting of India, Pakistan, Malaysia, Philippines, and Sri Lanka”.

“The office of foreign relations recommends no action be initiated with Indian or Pakistani partner governments regarding the existence or origination of these flights or of the targeting of their communications,” the document said.

Recommending that no action be initiated with Indian or Pakistani governments, the report says: “We will request via email that in-country NSA representatives in India and Pakistan advise their respective COS’s (officials) and embassy country teams, but not the partner governments, of the potential compromise. No further action is required.”

“If leaked, the office of foreign relations recommends that a position of not connecting on the details of the US intelligence activities be maintained.”

The alleged document says the spy-plane carried “material covering Russia, North Korea, India, and the Persian Gulf, as well as intelligence on the PRC not relevant to the mission”.

India has turned out to be the fifth most targeted country by the US, data previously revealed by Mr Snowden showed. Mr Snowden was a contractor for the NSA.

The incident reportedly led to a multifaceted military, operational, diplomatic, intelligence compromise as well as of the US ability to acquire and locate signals associated with Chinese submarines.

The report admits: “It may be several years before we can judge how PRC actually applies intelligence gained from the compromised information”.

Meanwhile, according to media reports, the US government is preparing charges to seek the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

US attorney general Jeff Sessions is reported to have said in a press conference on Thursday: “We have professionals that have been in the security business of the US for many years that are shocked by the number of leaks and some of them are quite serious. So yes, it (nabbing Mr Assange) is a priority”.

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