A "shared intelligence among Five Eyes partners" informed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about a probable connection between the Indian government and the death of pro-Khalistan Sikh leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar, as per US Ambassador to Canada David Cohen.
In an exclusive interview with Vassy Kapelos for CTV's Question Period, Cohen revealed that "the Five Eyes partners shared intelligence that helped lead Canada to make the statements that the Prime Minister made."
In a rare statement on matters of national security, Trudeau informed the House of Commons on Monday that Canadian intelligence agencies were looking into "credible allegations" that the Indian government's agents were responsible for prominent Canadian Sikh leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar's death in British Columbia in June.
Since then, there have been growing concerns about what intelligence is at the heart of this tale as diplomatic tensions continue to rise – from Canada reviewing its staffing in India to India stopping visa services for Canadians.
Cohen refused to comment on whether the investigation's intelligence was human and surveillance-based, or whether it included signals intelligence from Indian diplomats, but the US ambassador to Canada claimed that "there was shared intelligence among Five Eyes partners that helped lead Canada to making the statements that the Prime Minister made."
Cohen told Kapelos that there was "a lot of communication" between Ottawa and Washington, DC, despite reports from CBC and The Associated Press that the intelligence Trudeau was referring to did not come from Canada alone and that additional information was provided by an unnamed member of the intelligence-sharing alliance between Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
He said this in response to a Washington Post article that claimed that Ottawa had requested its closest allies, notably the United States, to publicly condemn the murder weeks before Trudeau's shocking announcement, but that request had been rejected.
"Very bluntly, I will say that — and you know me well enough — that I'm not in the habit of commenting on private diplomatic conversations," Cohen said.
"Look, I will say this was a matter of shared intelligence information," he added. "There was a lot of communication between Canada and the United States about this, and I think that's as far as I'm comfortable going."
In an interview with reporters earlier this week, Trudeau stated that throughout the summer, authorities had been actively collaborating with intelligence organisations to "make sure that we had solid grounding in understanding what was going on."
Additionally, after personally addressing the issue with allies and India outside of the G20, Trudeau stated he believed Canadians had a "right to know."
I'd like to talk more generally about how the U.S. perceives what has happened and whether President Joe Biden's administration is reluctant to support Canada.
According to Cohen, the United States "takes very seriously these allegations."
"And, you know, if they prove to be true, it is a potentially very serious breach of the rules-based international order in which we like to function," he said.
According to the ambassador, officials in Washington claim that Biden voiced his worry about the claims to India and asked it to assist Canada in its inquiry.
"We think it's very important to get to the bottom of it," Cohen said.