UK ‘furious’ over US leaks to media, ends intel sharing – reports
UK police have stopped sharing information about the Manchester terrorist attack with the US, following a series of leaks to media outlets, it has been reported.
US president Donald Trump says leaks of sensitive information following the Manchester terror attack are “deeply troubling” and pose a “grave threat” to US national security.
In a statement released after he arrived at the NATO military alliance in Brussels, Trump vowed his administration would “get to the bottom of this.” He said an investigation has been launched.
“The alleged leaks coming out of government agencies are deeply troubling. I am asking the Department of Justice and other relevant agencies to launch a complete review of this matter, and if appropriate, the culprit should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
He added: “There is no relationship we cherish more than the special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom.”
Greater Manchester Police will no longer share security information about the attack and investigation. Citing unidentified sources, the BBC reports UK officials are outraged, while the police are “furious” with the US leaking to the press.
According to Reuters, the halt in sharing information with the US will remain in place until Britain gets assurances no further leaks will occur.
"This is until such time as we have assurances that no further unauthorized disclosures will occur," a source, who spoke to Reuters on the condition of anonymity, said.
Speaking on Thursday, chief constable Ian Hopkins told media: “We greatly value the important relationships we have with our trusted intelligence, law enforcement and security partners around the world. These relationships enable us to collaborate and share privileged and sensitive information that allows us to defeat terrorism and protect the public at home and abroad.
“When that trust is breached it undermines these relationships, and undermines our investigations and the confidence of victims, witnesses and their families. This damage is even greater when it involves unauthorised disclosure of potential evidence in the middle of a major counter terrorism investigation.”
The most senior US diplomat in Britain has also condemned the media leaks and called for the US government to take action to identify those responsible.
“These leaks were reprehensible, deeply distressing. We unequivocally condemn them,” Lewis Lukens, US charge d'affaires in London and acting ambassador to Britain, told the BBC.
“The United States government is launching an investigation into these leaks and will take appropriate action once we identify the source of the leaks,” he said.
“We are determined to identify these leaks and to stop them."
Prime Minister Theresa May was due to chair a meeting of Cobra, the government's emergency response committee, on Thursday morning, a spokesman for her office said, according to Reuters. Later on Thursday, May will reportedly raise the issue of the leaks with US President Donald Trump at a NATO meeting in Brussels.
The investigation into the suicide bomb that killed 22 and injured 59 at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester is ongoing, with police making two more arrests on Thursday morning.
Forensic crime scene images showing fragments from the bomb as well as a backpack allegedly used to carry it appeared in the New York Times on Thursday, and were picked up by other media outlets.
Hours before the latest leaks were published in the New York Times, UK Home Secretary Amber Rudd said she had “been very clear with our friends that should not happen again,” after the first set of leaks to the US press, which included details about the death toll and the bomber’s name, which the police had not been planning to release at that stage.
A government source told the BBC the leaks were “on another level” and had caused “disbelief and astonishment” within the government.
The UK’s National Police Chiefs’ Council slammed the “unauthorised disclosure” and said it was a breach of trust that undermines a “major counter-terrorism investigation.”
The father and brother of suicide bomber Salman Abedi were arrested in Libya on Wednesday.