Trump vows to probe intelligence info leaks

President Donald Trump  and Prime Minister Theresa May  pose for a picture during the Nato summit at the Nato headquarters in Brussels on May 25, 2017.
President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Theresa May pose for a picture during the Nato summit at the Nato headquarters in Brussels on May 25, 2017. PHOTO: AFP

LONDON/MANCHESTER • US President Donald Trump has ordered an investigation into leaks from US government agencies that resulted in sensitive details of the Manchester Arena bombing being released to the media.

The leaks has threatened one of the world's closest intelligence- sharing partnerships.

Mr Trump said in a statement at a Nato meeting that the alleged leaks were deeply troubling. He said he had asked the US Department of Justice and other agencies to launch a complete review of the issue, which he said posed a "grave threat" to US national security .

"My administration will get to the bottom of this," he said.

Police investigating the suicide bombing have already suspended information sharing with the US, according to a report by the BBC.

The BBC said British officials were furious about an article in The New York Times on Wednesday that included photographs of the crime scene. The article did not cite a source.

The government in London had no comment on the BBC report yesterday, but Manchester's Chief Constable Ian Hopkins said the leaks to US media had been hurtful to the families of the victims.

"It is absolutely understandable the distress and upset that this caused to these families that are already suffering," he said.

British police said late on Wednesday that leaks to American media amounted to a breach of trust and undermined their investigation into the attack, stepping up earlier criticism from British Home Secretary Amber Rudd.

The New York Times story was published after Mrs Rudd rebuked the United States for naming the suspected suicide bomber hours before the British authorities were ready to share it.

The dispute could have wider implications for intelligence sharing between the US and its closest allies.

Mr Trump is already under fire for violating intelligence agreements, following a Washington Post report that he revealed sensitive information on the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, obtained from Israel, to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador. He defended the move as having provided information that concerned safety.

The US relies on a global network of intelligence-sharing partnerships, most notably the "Five Eyes" agreement among the US, Canada, Britain, Australia and New Zealand. Israel, Jordan and Saudi Arabia are key intelligence providers in the Middle East.

"We greatly value the important relationships we have with our trusted intelligence, law enforcement and security partners around the world," Britain's National Counter Terrorism Policing office said in a statement.

"When that trust is breached, it undermines these relationships and undermines our investigations."

BLOOMBERG, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 26, 2017, with the headline 'Trump vows to probe intelligence info leaks'. Print Edition | Subscribe