Nozette visited India in Jan: US media

ISRO refuses to disclose details of his visit

Despite this confirmation, India’s space agency, ISRO, continues to put up a smokescreen of secrecy, claiming on Wednesday that Nozette visited India “couple of times”, but not disclosing the precise months of his visit.

When Deccan Herald pointed out that the US media had confirmed Nozette’s “country A” as India, ISRO spokesperson S Satish said, “We have said in the past that he visited our facility in Bangalore a couple of times.”

Continuing to maintain secrecy over Nozette’s visit, Satish said, “The concerned department (in ISRO) considers the timing of Nozette’s visit to India as classified information. I will be able to confirm after speaking to the department”.

As speculation abounded on Nozette’s visit to ‘Country A’ in January this year, ISRO decided to clamp up on his travel dates to India, maintaining that the information was ‘classified’.

Nozette was a key member of the Mini-SAR, a NASA payload aboard Chandrayaan-I that provided evidence of the presence of water on the moon. Indian media reports proved that he was in India at the time of Chandrayaan-1’s launch in October 2008. The affidavit filed by FBI against Nozette said that he had visited ‘Country A’ in January 2009, where he left behind two thumb drives, but refused to identify this country. It is now clear that Nozette indeed visited India in January.

Not willing to accept

Even in the face of persistent questions, ISRO maintains that Nozette did not have access to any of critical documents, while visiting the country a couple of times. What the country’s space agency is unwilling to accept is the possibility that Nozette might have compromised classified NASA information and/or data to scientists who might in turn have channelled the information to other agencies.

US media reports quoting American administration officials indicate Nozette’s desperation to flee to India or Israel, if he was charged in an unrelated criminal offence.

At that time, he allegedly disclosed to a colleague that after reaching that country, he would “tell them everything I know.” It is still unclear what Nozette meant by ‘everything.’ According to US media reports, Nozette perhaps had plans to share classified information with concerned agencies in that country.

This is significant considering the FBI’s affidavit, which says that Nozette left behind two thumb drives, when he visited India in January 2009. Nozette has been indicted on charges of espionage and passing information to an FBI agent, posing as a Mossad agent.

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