Not exactly Aldrich Ames
There are two stories here. One is that pigeon racing is huge around the world, including Pakistan
, and an absolute mania
in China. In 2013 the Belgian government had to spring a Belgian pigeon named Bolt after a Chinese businessman paid $400,000 for the champion racer, obviously obtained for sale under questionable circumstances. Which is to say the writing stamped in Urdu on the suspected spy could be nothing more than provenance.
The other story is that birds are used as spies.
India arrests pigeon accused of spying for Pakistan
Alleged spy bird was carrying a 'stamped message' written in Urdu
Police in India this week arrested a pigeon on charges of spying for Pakistan. As BBC News reports, the pigeon was taken into custody on Thursday after a 14-year-old boy found it in a historically tumultuous region along the India-Pakistan border. The bird, whose name has not been disclosed, reportedly had a "stamped message" on its body that was partially written in Urdu. The message also included a Pakistani phone number. An X-ray of the bird didn't show anything out of the ordinary, but police have nevertheless registered it as a "suspected spy" and are keeping it in custody.
"This is a rare instance of a bird from Pakistan being spotted here," police superintendent Rakesh Kaushal told The Times of India. "We have caught a few spies here. The area is sensitive, given its proximity to Jammu, where infiltration is quite common."
This isn't the first time that a bird has been caught in the middle of an international dispute. In 2008, Iranian authorities arrested two pigeons
accused of spying on a nuclear facility, and a stork was detained
in Egypt two years ago after being spotted with a mysterious device attached to its feathers. Others have been targeted as potential terrorists. Last year, Chinese officials probed 10,000 pigeon anuses
amid fears that they may be carrying bombs.
No word yet on whether the pigeon arrested this week has hired a lawyer.