India allowed access to David Headley

Afp April 29, 2010

NEW DEHLI: India has won the right to interview David Headley, a key planner of militant attacks on Mumbai in 2008 who is being held in a US jail, the Indian embassy in Washington said in a press statement.

Headley, the US-born son of a former Pakistani diplomat and an American woman, was arrested in Chicago last year and in March pleaded guilty to surveying the hotels and other targets ahead of the attacks in which 166 people died. In exchange for his guilty plea, US prosecutors agreed he would not face extradition to India or the death penalty. India has been demanding access to Headley to interrogate him about the attacks, which it blames on Pakistan-based militants. The only surviving gunman was found guilty in a Mumbai court and is awaiting his sentence.

The solicitor general of India, Gopal Subramaniam, met with US Attorney General Eric Holder in Washington on Tuesday to press for the chance to question Headley – previously a point of contention between the two governments. “The two partners agreed to take suitable steps to bring about direct access by Indian authorities to David Headley as soon as possible,” the Indian embassy said in the statement. “The partnership between India and the US recognises the high priority to be accorded to each country’s national security.” Earlier this month, US President Barack Obama told Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that he wanted India to have access to Headley.

In an interview with NDTV news channel broadcast Wednesday, Subramaniam said his meeting with his American counterpart was successful. “The entire purpose of the visit has been achieved. We are going to work very closely. I do hope this signals the beginning of an era where inputs will be shared,” he said.