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UK's Trident whistleblower William McNeilly in custody

A British navy serviceman who released allegations of lax safety and security on the country's Trident nuclear missile submarines is in military police custody. William McNeilly published his concerns on the Internet.

The Royal Navy confirmed on Tuesday that 25-year-old William McNeilly had earlier been detained.

"We can confirm that Able Seaman McNeilly was apprehended last night and is now in the custody of the Royal Navy Police at a military establishment in Scotland where he is being afforded the duty of care that we give to all our people," a navy spokeswoman said.

The serviceman is understood to have handed himself in, having earlier indicated to British media that he would do so.

McNeilly went absent without leave last week after releasing an 18-page report online, including via the WikiLeaks website, in which he described his concerns about the security procedures at the Trident base at Faslane, near Scotland's most populous city Glasgow.

"If airport security and Nuclear weapon security were both compared to prisons, the airport would be Alcatraz and Base security would be house arrest," he wrote.

He alleged many safety and security flaws including fire risks and leaks on board, as well as top secret information being left unguarded and instances where the program could be infiltrated by terrorists, calling Trident "a disaster waiting to happen."

The Royal Navy was continuing to investigate, the spokeswoman said.

"The Royal Navy disagrees with McNeilly's subjective and unsubstantiated personal views but we take the operation of our submarines and the safety of our personnel extremely seriously and so continue to fully investigate the circumstances of this issue."

Watch video 05:18

UK and Scotland's trouble with Trident

An online petition initiated by the Scottish wing of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament called on British Prime Minister David Cameron to pardon the "Trident whistleblower," saying McNeilly should be commended for exposing "poor safety standards on nuclear submarines." The document had gained more than 3,600 supporters by Tuesday evening.

Trident, Britain's current submarine nuclear missile-based weapons system, is reaching the end of its intended shelf life. Whether to renew it, at the cost of billions of pounds, was one of the key topics debated in the lead-up to this month's British general election - although most major parties held highly comparable stances on the program.

Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservatives party, which forms a majority government, was in favor of replacing Trident's four submarines. Main rivals Labour had the same policy, as did UKIP, while the Liberal Democrats favored only a slight reduction to three submarines.

However, the Scottish National Party, which won all but three of the 59 Scottish seats in the UK Parliament at Westminster, and plays host to the UK's nuclear deterrent, is firmly opposed to the project.

se/msh (AP, AFP, Reuters)

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