The routine practice of sharing confidential information between U.S. and U.K. law enforcement authorities has been halted after the New York Times took it upon themselves to publish leaked photographs of items that were in the Manchester suicide bomber’s backpack, including a suspected trigger device and battery from the bomb.
Outraged that their American colleagues leaked crime scene photos to the press, British police and security services say that such disclosures could compromise their investigation and also have the potential to undermine the confidence of the victims and their families during the investigation.
U.S. media also published the name of the attacker, Salman Abedi, before British authorities even had a chance to disclose that information.
This moratorium on information sharing between law enforcement groups in both countries will not likely affect intelligence agencies, such as the FBI, MI6 and MI5.
Prime Minister Theresa May reportedly plans to use the NATO summit in Sicily to “make clear to President Trump that intelligence that is shared between our law enforcement agencies must remain secure.”
Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon and Home Secretary Amber Rudd have also publicly denounced the leaking of crime scene photos, because it undermines a tacit agreement between the two countries that the sharing of intelligence requires a certain amount of consent.
Unauthorised disclosure of potential evidence in the middle of a major CT investigation undermines our work & confidence of victims
— Terrorism Police UK (@TerrorismPolice) May 24, 2017
“We are furious,” said one British government official. “This is completely unacceptable. These images leaked from inside the US system will be distressing for victims, their families and the wider public. The issue is being raised at every relevant level by the British authorities with their US counterparts.”
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