UK quizzed on links to US drone strikes

2011-12-17 22:20
London - Lawyers for a Pakistani man who says his father was killed in an American drone strike called on Britain on Saturday to reveal whether it provided intelligence to help the US launch the attacks.

British lawyers Leigh Day and Co have written a letter to Foreign Secretary William Hague, demanding answers over London's alleged links to the CIA's covert drone war.

In particular, they want to know whether British intelligence was used in the March attack in northwest Pakistan that they claim killed the father of their client, Noor Khan.

The lawyers cite media reports which detail how British intelligence agencies provided information on the location of militants targeted by the drones.

"We ask the foreign secretary whether any information is being passed by agents of the UK government to US government forces to assist in these attacks," said Richard Stein, head of Leigh Day and Co's human rights team.

Outcry

"Unless it is categorically denied that the UK continues to pass such information to the US government forces, we require a clear policy statement of the arrangements which are in place and circumstances in which the UK considers it to be lawful to do so," he added in a statement.

Clive Stafford Smith, head of British legal charity Reprieve, added: "CIA drone strikes are killing huge numbers of civilians and destabilising Pakistan.

"The British people have a right to know what their country's policy is regarding our involvement in this illegal and disastrous campaign."

"We will study this letter closely and respond to the issues raised," said a Foreign Office spokesperson.

The raids by the CIA's fleet of unmanned aircraft target al-Qaeda and Taliban extremists in northwest Pakistan.

Islamabad has tacitly consented to the drone campaign, which many Pakistanis see as a violation of their country's sovereignty.

But the US was this month forced to start evacuating the Shamsi air base in southwest Pakistan, understood to be a hub for drone strikes, following an outcry over a Nato air raid on Pakistan's border that left 24 of its soldiers dead.
Read more on:    pakistan  |  security

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