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Indian police clear Taiwan pigeon suspected of spying for China

Avian apprehension occurred when bird discovered with Chinese writing

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Racing pigeons are pictured mid flight. (Canva photo)

Racing pigeons are pictured mid flight. (Canva photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A Taiwanese pigeon suspected of spying for China can once again fly free after Indian police cleared it of wrongdoing following eight months in detention.

AP reported on Thursday (Feb. 2) the pigeon had been released into the wild after being captured in Mumbai in May. Because the bird had rings attached to its legs with what appeared to be Chinese characters, police suspected it was a spy pigeon and detained it.

An investigation at a Mumbai animal hospital revealed the bird was an open-water racing pigeon that had escaped from Taiwan and winged its way to India. After the bird’s origin was determined, it was transferred to an animal welfare group that set it free on Tuesday (Feb. 1).

A spokesperson for the Taiwan Pigeon Racing Association told Taiwan News that it is possible the bird could have flown to India from Taiwan. However, they said there was no way of being sure it was from Taiwan, as Indian police did not release the pigeon’s serial number.

Pigeons have come under policy scrutiny in India before. In 2016 a pigeon was found with a note threatening Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and in 2020 another suspected of spying was released by police after it flew over the heavily militarized India-Pakistan border.