FBI chief to visit India next week after US raised foiled murder plot

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – FBI Director Christopher Wray will visit India next week, officials said, days after Washington accused an Indian government official of directing an unsuccessful plot to assassinate a Sikh separatist on American soil.

India’s government, which has denied any involvement in the plot, sought to distance the visit from the case, saying Wray’s trip had been planned for some time.

The U.S. ambassador to India, Eric Garcetti, did not go into any details as he announced the visit at a think tank event in New Delhi on Wednesday.

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan said last week an Indian national had worked with an unnamed Indian government employee on the plot to assassinate the New York City resident who advocated for a sovereign Sikh state in northern India.

At the time, India expressed concern about the accusations, calling it contrary to government’s policy, and said it would carry out its own investigation.

The target of the assassination plot has been identified as Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, who says he holds American and Canadian citizenships.

The visit by the FBI Director had “been in the works for some time,” India’s foreign ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said on Thursday.

“This is part of an ongoing security cooperation,” he added.

(Reporting by Krishn Kaushik; Editing by Andrew Heavens)