Theresa May denies suppressing report on Saudi terrorism funding to protect UK arms deals
Prime Minister Theresa May has shrugged off accusations that her government is ‘sitting’ on a report on alleged Saudi Arabian funding of UK extremists in order to protect diplomatic ties and lucrative trade deals with the Gulf kingdom.
Speaking in the House of Commons on Wednesday, the Tory leader dismissed claims the report had been shelved to cover up British arms sales to Saudi Arabia.
British weapons have allegedly killed civilians in the Saudi-led war in Yemen.
She also denied burying the findings of the report, completed in January, in order to spare the Saudi government embarrassment.
“It is absolutely nothing to do with that,” May told MPs.
“There is certain confidential information in the report which means it would not be appropriate to publish it.”
The denial came after Home Secretary Amber Rudd said the report, commissioned by former PM David Cameron in 2015, would not be published for “national security reasons.”
It intensified allegations that the government is attempting to cover up the significance of Saudi Arabia’s funding of extremist organizations and individuals in the UK in order to save diplomatic ties with its main trade and security partner in the Middle East.
Rudd said the Labour Party would be able to look at the findings of the report through the Privy Council, but the details would not be made public.
A poll for the Independent newspaper found a majority (64 percent) of Britons want the report “publicly available in full,” with just 11 percent saying they would be happy with its full suppression.
The survey also found a majority want Britain to halt arms sales to Saudi Arabia.
A group of survivors of the 9/11 attacks joined growing calls on Wednesday for May to release the report.
“The UK now has the unique historic opportunity to stop the killing spree of Wahhabism-inspired terrorists by releasing the UK government’s report on terrorism financing in the UK which, according to media reports, places Saudi Arabia at its center of culpability,” the group said in an open letter signed by 15 people.
“The longer Saudi Arabia’s complicity is hidden from sunlight, the longer terrorism will continue.
“They must be stopped; but who will stop them? We submit that you are uniquely situated to shine the cleansing light of public consciousness,” the group added, according to the Independent.
The group believes the 9/11 attack would not have been possible without the help of Saudi Arabia.