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Access to Headley likely this month
NEW DELHI: India is most likely to get access to American Lashkar terrorist David Coleman Headley this month with the United States indicating that it will communicate the exact date latest by next week. But officials -- keeping a track on the probe here -- do not seem to be optimistic about any favourable outcome of his questioning.

Sources in the home ministry said that the US would convey to India by May 15 when a team of Indian investigators should visit Chicago for "direct access" to Headley. The dates would be indicated after coordinating availability of the lawyer of the prosecuting agency as well as Headley's defence lawyer for the purpose, they added.

"India in all likelihood will get direct access within this month only," they said, adding apart from National Investigating Agency (NIA) and Mumbai Police officials, a team comprising a magistrate, legal experts and home ministry officials will go to the US to interrogate Headley.

Expressing their doubts over the outcome of such an access, officials here said it was highly unlikely that Headley -- suspected to be a double agent who first worked for the US intelligence agencies before being driven towards Lashkar -- would say anything more than what he had already told the FBI interrogators.

An official said: "Even the US agencies may not like him to say much. It is possible that they might have already told him what replies to give to questions, apprehending that anything more may expose the US for whom Headley had worked."

Headley was arrested in Chicago by FBI in October last year when the US probe agency found him planning a terror attack on a Danish newspaper office in Copenhagen. Later during the probe, it was found that he was the man who had identified targets for the perpetrators of the 26/11 Mumbai carnage and did surveillance for many other targets for future attacks.

The government, meanwhile, on Wednesday told Rajya Sabha that India had indicated to the US, at different levels, that it would like Headley to be extradited on charges linked to the 26/11 terrorist attack in Mumbai.

Union home secretary G K Pillai had on April 30 first indicated that Indian investigators would be given direct access to Headley. "This is a significant achievement and should put an end to the doubts expressed in certain quarters," he had said.

A two-member team led by solicitor general Gopal Subramanium had visited the US for five days to discuss modalities of gaining access to Headley. On its return, Subramanium had said: "All the bottlenecks (for access to Headley) are removed and we have a way forward. So it's up to us to operationalise the plan forward."

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