American spy agencies shared intelligence with Canada regarding the killing of Sikh separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar.
After two masked men killed Nijjar outside of a gurdwara in Surrey, British Columbia in June, the US provided Ottawa with information to support Canada’s conclusion that Indian “agents” carried out the brazen assassination.
The US wasn’t aware of the killing ahead of time, and did not share any “smoking gun” evidence,” but helped provide additional context to its close northern ally, US intelligence sources told The New York Times.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police is investigating the killing, in which New Delhi denies any involvement.
Canada reportedly has human and signals intelligence backing up their theory of the assassination, including communications involving Indian officials in Canada, CBC reports.
"I can assure you that the decision to share these allegations on the floor of the House of Commons … was not done lightly," Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday. "It was done with the utmost seriousness."
The killing has sparked a diplomatic crisis between Canada and India. Canada has the largest Sikh community outside of India, home to about 770,000 people.
Ottawa expelled a senior diplomat working for Indian intelligence, while India has expelled a senior Canadian diplomat and indefinitely suspended visa services in all categories for Canadians.
Nijjar, a Canadian citizen, advocated for the creation of Khalistan, an independent nation for India’s Sikh population that would include part of the state of Punjab.
“I am a Sikh nationalist who believes in and supports Sikhs’ right to self-determination and independence of Indian occupied Punjab through a future referendum,” he wrote in a 2016 open letter.
The Indian government declared Nijjar a terrorist in 2020. It accused him of leading the Khalistan Tiger Force militant organisation.
On 18 June, as Nijjar was leaving a Sikh temple, two masked men blocked in his car and killed him with automatic weapons, firing an estimated 30 to 50 shots.