New Delhi, Jul 3: A security breach at the National Security Council Secretariat, India’s top intelligence processing unit, may have led to sensitive information being leaked to foreign agents, The Sunday Express newspaper has claimed.
A director of the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), the country’s top external intelligence agency, has been asked not to return to work and his files and computers have been seized, the paper said in an exclusive report.
A computer systems analyst in the National Security Council Secretariat has been arrested and his residence raided. Also under watch is a Navy commander who was information security specialist at the secretariat.
Intelligence Bureau (IB) officials are still uncovering the damage at the secretariat, which is the repository of intelligence inputs from all security agencies at the Centre.
The paper quoting unnamed sources said the breach could have affected RAW, the secretariat and parts of the External Affairs Ministry.
Navy commander Mukesh Saini, who till recently headed the secretariat’s National Information Security Co-ordination Cell, is being questioned in connection with the security breach detected a month ago.
Saini was also a coordinator in the Indo-US Cyber Security Forum, a bilateral programme to ease information exchange. Last week, IB officials questioned in connection with alleged leakage of information to an American woman.
Saini now works for a US software firm in India. “I do not want to comment on a matter of national security which is currently under investigation,” Saini told The Sunday Express.
IB officials are also examining how Saini was allowed to quit to join a private software firm when he was an important official handling national security issues.
Meanwhile, Delhi Police have arrested NSC secretariat systems analyst S S Paul. The IB is investigating the alleged links between Saini and the US national whom he is said to have “introduced” to Paul last year.
Around the time Paul was picked up, the office of Brigadier Ujjwal Dasgupta, RAW’s Director for Computers and Training, was raided on June 17.
Dasgupta, also involved in the Indo-US Cyber Security Forum, has been on extension in RAW and has now been told that his services are not required. He is also under watch.
Another spy case rocks security establishment
Sudhi Ranjan Sen, NDTV.COM, Monday, July 3, 2006 (New Delhi):
Coming close on the heels of the Rabinder Singh episode where a RAW officer defected to US after being caught out, a new controversy has rattled the Indian security establishment.
In a startling new revelation, an American diplomat/official was involved in a major security breach in the National Security Council Secretariat.
Indian security forces now claim they have identified the US spy to whom secret information was handed over. According to them, the Third Secretary in the US Embassy, Rosanne Minchew was running the ring.
It's said to have included retired and serving officers in the security establishment. Minchew is understood to be on leave and had left India a few weeks ago.
The US embassy, on its part, has refused to comment on the sensitive matter.
So how did this whole spy network operate? Minchew was reportedly associated with the Indo-US Cyber Security Forum, a key initiative between the two countries to fight global terror.
She used this as a cover. Her contact was SS Paul, the first person to be arrested for passing secrets from the National Security Council Secretariat. He was a computer systems administrator.
NDTV inquires reveal that he had access to all computers within the NSCS. Even its chief, the Deputy National Security Advisor's computer is suspected to have been compromised.
Paul took out information on pen drives as well as printouts and even sent SMSes. The NSCS collects reports and assessments of security and intelligence agencies like RAW and the IB.
It has access to India's nuclear plans. It then advises the National Security Council headed by the Prime Minister. Paul worked with the NSCS for nearly four years and was confirmed in mid-2004.
According to sources, the government is also contemplating action against a RAW director, U Dasgupta, who was working in the cyber wing of the external intelligence agency.
Sources have told NDTV that they will take it up with the appropriate US authorities but with several crucial Indo-US deals pending, the Indian government appears to be trying to play the controversy down.
American diplomat leaves India
Press Trust of India, New Delhi, July 3, 2006
An American woman diplomat, who was allegedly involved with an espionage network in the National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS), has left India, informed sources said in New Delhi on Monday night.
The diplomat Rosanne Minchew, who was allegedly receiving information from arrested NSCS official SS Paul has left India after the Government took up the issue with the US authorities, the sources said.
The diplomat was understood to have been associated with Indo-US Cyber Security Forum, a joint initiative of the two countries to fight international terrorism.
When contacted, a US Embassy spokesman said "no comments".
The spy ring came to light in the middle of last month with the arrest of Paul, a computer systems administrator in NSCS which gets assessments from intelligence agencies on security issues, the sources said.
The Special Cell of Delhi police has registered a case in connection with the spy ring following a complaint filed by the Cabinet Secretariat.
The spy network in the NSC Secretariat comes after the episode involving Rabinder Singh, a senior RAW officer, who had defected to the US in 2004 after security agencies suspected him of supplying secrets to his American contacts.
The sources said a senior RAW officer, who was working with the cyber wing of the agency, has been questioned by the Intelligence Bureau with regard to the case in which the American diplomat was allegedly involved.
A Navy commander, who was also associated with NSCS, has been interrogated for allegedly leaking sensitive information, they added.
CIA break-in at top security location
Josy Joseph, DNA INDIA.COM, Sunday, July 02, 2006
NEW DELHI: Intelligence agencies and the Delhi police are investigating yet another spy break-in at a high security location in the capital, and this time around it involves the US intelligence agencies. The investigations got underway even as the euphoria over the Indo-US nuclear deal progression was bubbling over, early this week.
SS Paul, a senior system analyst working with the National Security Council Secretariat, is being interrogated by the police and intelligence agencies to uncover the extent of information that he passed on to an American. The American, sources believe, was an undercover CIA operative in the Capital.
The National Security Council Secretariat is under the National Security Advisor MK Narayanan and has regular flow of information from all central intelligence agencies.
According to sources, Paul met the American during an Indo-US Cyber Security meet in the Capital last year, and both became friends. The documents Paul passed on would be detailed internal assessments of government thinking on a variety of sensitive issues including the Indo-US nuclear deal. It could also be intelligence inputs made available to NSCS. This is for the second time in recent years that CIA has managed to break into a sensitive Indian office.