Leaked ca­bles show US, UK quar­rel on spy flights

The Pak Banker - - 6international -

LONDON: Bri­tish of­fi­cials com­plained to U.S. di­plo­mats about se­cret Amer­i­can spy flights us­ing for­eign U.K. air­bases, fear­ing that the data col­lected dur­ing those mis­sions could im­pli­cate their coun­try in po­ten­tial hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions, ac­cord­ing to se­cret diplo­matic memos re­leased by Wik­iLeaks.

The Bri­tish of­fi­cials de­manded from Amer­i­can di­plo­mats that all such flights in the fu­ture be cleared by London, ac­cord­ing to the ca­bles sent by U.S. Em­bassy in London in 2008, and which were re­leased by Wik­iLeaks on Wed­nes­day.

Amer­i­can of­fi­cials dis­missed the Bri­tish con­cerns and de­mands as bur­den­some and ob­struc­tive to coun­tert­er­ror­ism ef­forts, the ca­bles showed. At the heart of the dis­pute were U.S. spy flights flown over Turkey, north­ern Iraq and Le­banon that used the Bri­tish air­base in Cyprus. The planes col­lected in­tel­li­gence that was passed on to third party gov­ern­ments in­clud­ing Le­banon. Amer­i­can di­plo­mats wrote that the Bri­tish feared that the U.K. could un­wit­tingly aid tor­ture be­cause of that.

Bri­tish of­fi­cials pressed U.S. di­plo­mats to en­sure that no de­tainee cap­tured as a re­sult of the in­tel­li­gence gath­ered dur­ing those flights were tor­tured. The ca­bles did not say what kind of in­tel­li­gence the spy planes gath­ered, or whether any­one was tor­tured as a re­sult. The Bri­tish of­fi­cials also de­manded that all fu­ture spy flights us­ing Bri­tish territories be cleared by London.

"It is im­por­tant for us to be sat­is­fied that HMG (her majesty's govern­ment) is not in­di­rectly aid­ing the com­mis­sion of un­law­ful acts by those gov­ern­ments on the ba­sis of the in­for­ma­tion gath­ered through the as­sis­tance we pro­vide to the U.S.," Will Jes­sett, then the Bri­tish di­rec­tor of counter-ter­ror­ism at the De­fense Min­istry, wrote in a let­ter to the Amer­i­can Em­bassy. But Richard LeBaron, a U.S. diplo­mat, wrote to his col­leagues in Washington that the de­mands were "bur­den­some" and "un­re­al­is­tic." "Em­bassy London ... rec­om­mend that DOD (Depart­ment of De­fense) and State (Depart­ment) of­fi­cials raise with U.K. coun­ter­parts the con­cern that ex­ces­sive con­di­tions such as de­scribed above will hin­der, if not ob­struct, our co­op­er­a­tive coun­tert­er­ror­ism ef­forts," he wrote. -Ap

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