US Reiterates Media Reports Responsible for Embassy Security Message in India

US State Department Deputy Spokesperson Mark Toner

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Washington, DC – The United States this week refused to comment on an Australian travel warning that followed the US security alert. The US put the onus on Indian media reports which it said precipitated the US embassy’s security alert suggesting ISIL’s desire to attack targets in India.

Answering a question at the State Department briefing, Deputy spokesperson Mark Toner said, “I wouldn’t speak to that (on Australian warning).”

On the heels of the US advising caution to its citizens traveling in or visiting India, the Australian government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade posted, “India overall, exercise a high degree of caution,” adding, “Pay close attention to your personal security at all times and monitor the media about possible new safety or security risks.”

Earlier the US embassy in New Delhi said, “Recent Indian media reports indicate ISIL’s desire to attack targets in India. The U.S. Embassy warns of an increased threat to places in India frequented by Westerners, such as religious sites, markets, and festival venues. All U.S. citizens are reminded to maintain a high level of vigilance and take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness as detailed in the State Department’s Worldwide Caution of September 9, 2016.”

Asked to comment on the subject, Toner said, “It wasn’t a Travel Warning, and there’s an important distinction to make there, Tejinder. The US embassy did – in New Delhi did release a security message on November 1st that was highlighting recent media reports, frankly, that indicate ISIL’s desire to attack targets in India. I think it talked about increased threats to markets, religious sites, and festival venues.”

“And this is a pretty common thing for an embassy to do when presented with this kind of information. As I said, this is information that was in the Indian media, but we’re certainly – when we have that kind of information, we’re going to send it out via our networks to the American community,” Toner reiterated.

Further queried about details of which media was consulted, Toner said, “I don’t have the list of media in front of me. What I would say is that you are absolutely right, and I wouldn’t say just India. Many media environments have a broad swath of viewpoints, shall we say. And I think that – I trust, in fact, that our embassy and its public affairs section and press section are able to evaluate that media market and assess whether the information is credible or not.

Toner praised a vibrant media and “some very, very good media outlets, including newspapers,” explaining, “In India that I’m sure figure into the assessment of the embassy when it’s carrying out or evaluating this kind of information.”

On the personnel doing these evaluations, Toner concluded, “There’s a very sophisticated media market, and that’s what both our Foreign Service officers posted in embassies overseas but also the Indians who are employed by the embassy are paid to do. They’re paid to evaluate and analyze that media.”

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