Manchester: UK resumes intelligence-sharing after US leak | News | DW | 26.05.2017
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Manchester: UK resumes intelligence-sharing after US leak

British police have resumed sharing intelligence on the Manchester bombing with their US counterparts. Authorities on Friday arrested an eighth suspect linked to Monday's terror attack.

Britain's top counterterrorism officer, Mark Rowley, announced late on Thursday that the UK had resumed exchanging intelligence with the United States on the Manchester terror investigation following a string of leaks by US officials to the media.

Rowley said that "having received fresh assurances, we are now working closely with our key partners around the world including all those in the Five Eyes intelligence alliance." The Five Eyes intelligence sharing group includes Britain, the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Read more: Will Manchester change after the attack?

British officials had temporarily halted exchanging information with the United States on Wednesday after the New York Times newspaper published detailed forensic images of the bomb scene.

Watch video 00:50

Manchester: Victims remain in critical condition

Monday's terror attack on a concert at Manchester Arena killed 22 people and wounded more than 50, with many of the victims being children.

Investigating undermined

British officials said the US leaks had undermined an ongoing investigation into a suspected terror network including a search for bomb makers. US officials first caused outrage after they leaked the name of the attacker on Monday before Manchester police did so themselves

"The British police have been very clear that they want to control the flow of information in order to protect operational integrity, the element of surprise, so it is irritating if it gets released from other sources, and I have been very clear with our friends that should not happen again," UK Interior Minister Amber Rudd said.

Meanwhile, Manchester Chief Constable Ian Hopkins told reporters Thursday that it was ""absolutely understandable that this (leaking of information) has caused much distress for families that are already suffering terribly with their loss." 

May, Trump decry leaks

British Prime Minister Theresa May confronted US President Donald Trump over the leak during Thursday's NATO summit, having promised UK security officials she would "make clear" that shared intelligence must be secured.

 A spokesman for the Prime Minister said that May "expressed the view that the intelligence sharing relationship we have with the US is hugely important and valuable, but that the information that we share should be kept secure."

For his part, Trump, who on Thursday led allies in paying respect to the victims, vowed to crack down on the "deeply troubling" leaks, adding that the culprit "should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."

In a White House statement, Trump said that the he would order the US Justice Department to lead an investigation into the matter. "These leaks have been going on for a long time and my administration will get to the bottom of this," he said. "The leaks of sensitive information pose a grave threat to our national security."

New York Times stands by decision

The New York Times defended its decision to publish leaked photos from the scene of the terrorist attack. A New York Times spokeswoman said in a statement that its coverage of the bombing was "both comprehensive and responsible" and that the paper had strict guidelines on how to cover sensitive stories.

"The images and information presented were neither graphic nor disrespectful of victims, and are consistent with the common line of reporting on weapons used in horrific crimes, as The Times and other media outlets have done following terrorist acts around the world, from Boston to Paris to Baghdad, and many places in between," the statement read.

Fresh arrest made

After the arrest of another suspect on Friday, eight men are now being detained in connection with the bombing.

Authorities said the suicide bomber, 22-year-old British-Libyan Salman Abedi, did not act alone. 

Salman's older brother Ismail is among those under arrest in Britain. Meanwhile, Libyan militia this week arrested Salman Abedi's younger brother Hashim and his father, Ramadan, who returned to Libya from Britain several years ago.

One woman and a man who were earlier taken into custody in the UK have been released. 

German link?

British intelligence officials were also reported to be working with German authorities to find out who bomber Salman Abedi met and where he went after trips to Syria and Libya. 

The alleged bomber flew to Manchester from Dusseldorf airport just days before he launched his attack at the concert arena, according to a report first published in the German "Focus" magazine. He is also believed to have been in Germany before, having flown from Frankfurt Airport to Britain in 2015. 

Read more: Manchester bomber: A life on the move

Police in Dusseldorf later confirmed that Abedi transited through the airport but remained in a secure zone. A German intelligence official said: "We must clarify whether Abedi knew people in Syria who he met" in Germany.

Greater armed police presence on public transport 

British Transport Police said armed officers would start to patrol UK trains due to the increased threat of extremist attacks. The patrols were due to begin immediately.

Schweigeminute - Gedenken an die Opfer von Manchester (picture-alliance/PA Wire/B. Birchall)

A minute's silence was held in Manchester and throughout the UK

Armed officers have been patrolling London Underground trains since December 2016, but the latest move marks a first affecting other parts of the country outside the capital.

British Transport Police Chief Constable Paul Crowther said the force had "radically increased" its presence since the attack in Manchester.

"By having firearms officers on board trains we're ensuring that trains remain as safe as possible for passengers. Our patrols will be highly visible and passengers should feel comforted by their presence," Crowther added.

cw, ss, dm/sms (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)

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