India will have access to David Headley: Robert Blake

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New Delhi, Mar 20 (ANI): United States Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, Robert Blake, on Saturday said Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) operative David Coleman Headley cannot be extradited to India now, but Indian investigators would be allowed to interrogate him.

Headley, who has been charged by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for conspiring in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, had on Thursday pleaded guilty to all 12 charges levelled against him in a US court.

Blake said that Headley would not be extradited to India, but Indian officials would be given the chance to interrogate him.

"The plea bargain agreement that was announced and part of the agreement was that United States would not extradite Headley either to India or to Pakistan or to Denmark on the charges for which he is now admitted guilty. That does not mean that at some future date, some additional charges could not be brought," said Blake.

"So, I don't want to speculate too much about that possibility of future extradition but at least on these charges he cannot be extradited. And the other question that has been raised is that whether Indian investigators will be allowed access to Headley to know more about his involvement in the planning of the Mumbai attacks, and the answer to that is yes," he added.

On Thursday (US time), Headley pleaded guilty before a Chicago court, admitting he had scouted for targets ahead of a brazen terrorist attack on Mumbai on November 26, 2008.

As a result, as per law, Headley will not face any trial or won't be given the death penalty.

Under the plea bargain, Headley has escaped the death penalty. He also cannot be extradited from the US to India, Pakistan or Denmark.

Union Home Minister P Chidambaram had on Friday claimed that there is a good chance that alleged Lashkar operative Headley could be made to testify in judicial proceedings where Indian officials are involved.

"There is a good chance that he will testify in judicial proceedings where Indian investigators will have a right to question him," Chidambaram said.

Chidambaram said India would continue to press for Headley's extradition. We will continue with our plea for the extradition of Headley," he said.

"We have been given a significant amount of information by the US gathered during investigation in the Headley case," Chidambaram added.

He further said extradition would be difficult when a person is being interrogated in a country. I don't know when their court procedure would come to an end.

In his guilty plea Headley has agreed to take part in foreign judicial proceedings through deposition, video conferencing or Letters Rogatory. hidambaram said India would request for access to Headley to question him and also to make him testify.

He further said the development in related to Headley's case would not hinder the 26/11 proceedings in India.

Union Home Secretary G K Pillai had on Thursday said that India would lodge a protest if Headley is let off lightly, adding that New Delhi would continue to demand access Headley.

Forty-nine-year-old Headley is accused of being a scout for the deadly 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks in which at least 166 people, including six Americans, were killed and for a plot to kill a Danish cartoonist. (ANI)

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