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US satellites spied on Sri Lanka during war

It has been revealed that the US military used satellites to spy on Sri Lanka during the final stages of its battle against the LTTE.

This revelation comes close on the heels of a controversy over satellite images on Sri Lanka’s war zone obtained by the UN and leaked to the media. India, too, deployed aircraft fitted with sophisticated equipment to monitor the battlefield while the war was raging.

According to a report filed by Times Online, the US military has admitted to having ‘monitored’ Sri Lanka’s conflict zone and sought to justify its action on the grounds that it was looking for evidence of war crimes in view of the UN Human Rights Council session on Sri Lanka scheduled to be held next week.

The satellite images at issue, the Times Online says, were ‘acquired by the National Geo-spatial Intelligence Agency (NGA) based in Bethesda, Maryland, which is part of the Department of Defence but provides services for other government agencies’.

An NGA spokesman, Marshall Hudson, is reported to have said his agency had been monitoring Sri Lanka’s conflict zone for the State Department.

The US is expected to use the satellite images of Sri Lanka’s war zone as evidence of war crimes, if any, to sway the undecided members of the 47-member Human Rights Council, which is dominated by China and Russia. US obtained UNHRC membership recently having boycotted it.

Outgoing US Ambassador to Sri Lanka Robert O’ Blake told the media recently in answer to a question whether the US subscribed to the war crimes allegations against Sri Lanka that the matter was still under review.

Britain, the EU and UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon called for a probe into allegations of war crimes against both the LTTE and the Sri Lankan armed forces.

The resolution of the satellite pictures, the Times Online said, did not exceed half a metre per pixel and most did not allow night vision. However, Hudson said the NGA used ‘software to recognize and analyse difference between images that could indicate damages from bombs or heavy artillery’.

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