Canadian spies were warned convicted gunman invited to Trudeau’s India events

Trudeau met Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi Friday in a visit marred by security concerns and diplomatic missteps.
Canadian Press

Canada’s spy agency had advanced warning about a convicted extremist who received an invitation to appear at photo-ops with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s family and other Canadian government events in India, according to the Vancouver Sun.

Pictures of the Trudeau family with Jaspal Atwal, who was convicted of attempting to assassinate an Indian cabinet minister in 1986, have embarrassed Canadian diplomats trying to drum-up business in India and raised questions about the government’s security vetting.

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The Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) received a tip last week about Atwal’s criminal history, the Sun reported, but he was still welcome at official events in India.

The anonymous tipster told a CSIS agent that Atwal’s presence would be "an embarrassment for the prime minister and CSIS should send a note to the prime minister's office. And they sent a note," the Sun reported. CSIS did not respond to requests for comment from the Vancouver Sun.

Atwal is a former member of the International Sikh Youth Federation, a banned terrorist group in Canada and India that wants a separate homeland for India’s Sikh minority.

He attended an event in Mumbai earlier this week where he was photographed with Trudeau’s wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau and Canadian infrastructure minister Amarjeet Sohi. Atwal was put on the invitation list by Surrey Centre MP Randeep who is travelling with Trudeau in India. He has since apologized for extending the invitation.

Throughout Trudeau’s visit to India, Indian officials have expressed concerns about the Liberal government’s perceived closeness to supporters of Khalistan, a separatist movement advocating for an independent Sikh state.

Indian officials, meanwhile, are trying to determine how Atwal was able obtain a visa to enter the country.

Trudeau met Prime Minister Modi on Friday and the two embraced with a hug. The meeting followed a week of diplomatic missteps by the Canadian leader and speculation in the Indian press that Modi had snubbed Trudeau by not meeting him at the airport upon arrival.

Trudeau leaves India on Saturday.