UK 'must come clean' on GCHQ support for CIA drone strikes, says Reprieve

UK 'must come clean' on GCHQ support for CIA drone strikes, says Reprieve

By agency reporter
29 Jun 2013

Speaking in Los Angeles on 25 June, UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said of the UK’s policy on intelligence-sharing with the United States: "We operate under the rule of law and are accountable for it. In some countries secret intelligence is used to control their people. In ours, it only exists to protect their freedoms."

His comments come as the UK government is locked in a battle to avoid revealing what GCHQs policy is on providing intelligence to support CIA drone strikes.

Commenting on Mr Hague's speech, Cori Crider, Strategic Director of the leagal charity Reprieve and an attorney, said: “Mr Hague says secret intelligence protects the freedoms of Britons – but is apparently happy for UK intelligence to strip the freedoms (and lives) of Pakistani and Yemeni victims of secret wars. Reprieve’s client Noor Khan, who lost his father and over 40 others in a botched drone strike, would find this claim laughable. He has tried to get the UK to explain how sharing GCHQ spy data with the US to drone Pakistani villages is not illegal – so far in vain.

"The UK government has fought tooth and nail in his case to keep judges from considering their role in supporting US drone strikes. Is this what you call
transparency?”

Although there have been reports that GCHQ supports the CIA’s covert drone programme in Pakistan, the Government has refused to either confirm or deny
what its policy is.

A judicial review of British Government policy has been brought by Noor Khan from North Waziristan, whose father was killed in a 2011 strike on a civilian
meeting. However, ministers continue to fight the case, although it seeks only to clarify what the Government’s policy is on supporting drone strikes, and whether that policy is legal.

A recent decision by the Peshawar High Court (PHC) in Pakistan declared the CIA’s drone campaign to be a war crime, and ordered the Pakistani Government to
take steps to put an end to it. By sharing intelligence in support of the campaign, GCHQ may have broken both domestic and international law.

[Ekk/4]

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