On 22 October, WikiLeaks released an email discussion where Greenpeace sought the help of John Podesta, top Hillary Clinton aide and her 2016 campaign manager, to help the organisation after the government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi levied controls on the funding of the environmental organisation.
The discussion on the situation of Greenpeace in India took place between Podesta and Karen Sack, Managing Director of Ocean Unite, a non-governmental organisation that works towards ocean conservation, who had earlier worked with Greenpeace.
One of the mails concerned was a conversation that took place on 26 May 2015, where Sack wrote to Podesta:
I have had a request from some colleagues at Greenpeace as they are facing a very serious situation in India. In a nutshell: an Indian Intelligence Bureau report was “leaked” alleging Greenpeace India was responsible for a loss of 2-3% of the country’s GDP. Since then the Ministry of Home Affairs has kept up a relentless attack of allegations of irregularities in their registration and has now frozen all their bank accounts, both foreign and domestic, despite a Delhi High Court ruling there was no basis for doing so. The bottom line is that without some kind of intervention, they will have to close down by the end of June. This has never happened to a Greenpeace office in the entire history of the organization…What’s going on in India is concerning. There are some interesting linkages between the coal industry there and in Australia. Adani — the coal billionaire from India is the person who plans to invest in building a coal port just near the Great Barrier Reef — which has people up in arms down under.
Podesta forwarded the conversation to the officials of Sandler Foundation – one of the chief funders of the Center for American Progress, a Democratic think tank founded by Podesta. Interestingly, Sandler Foundation also funded an environmental group in Australia that was opposing a mining project of the Adani Group.
Sergio Knaebel, Grant Director of Sandler Foundation, responded:
Adani is very close to Modi — so this will be a delicate diplomatic challenge…The situation for NGOs in Australia is also getting pretty serious. The Abbot government has set its sights on organizations fighting the expansion of coal and for protecting the reef — and is looking to withdraw charitable status and out foreign donors in an effort to cast the NGO’s work as foreign intervention. Same playbook as India (and Canada).
In order to show good intent, Podesta promised to put Kumi Naidoo, then International Executive Director of Greenpeace, in touch with his brother Tony Podesta, who heads the Podesta Group, one of the firms that lobbies for India in the United States. But the set emails have not revealed what steps were taken, if any.
Podesta has refused to comment on the WikiLeaks revelation.
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