U.K. Home Secretary Amber Rudd criticized U.S. officials for leaking details about Monday’s terrorist attack in Manchester, warning Britain’s ally that it should not happen again.
The suicide bombing after a pop concert in Manchester killed 22 people and injured 59, with many children among the victims. Several details, including the identity of the attacker, appeared on U.S. media outlets before British security forces were ready to release the information.
“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,” Rudd told BBC Radio on Wednesday, when asked about U.S. leaks. “I have been very clear with our friends that that should not happen again.”
It is rare for the U.K. government to publicly criticize the U.S. and in such blunt terms. The rebuke raises the risk that key allies could become more reluctant to share vital security information with the world’s superpower.
The Washington Post reported last week that President Donald Trump had shared with Russia sensitive information from a U.S. intelligence partner about an Islamic State plot. On Monday, Trump hinted Israel may have been the source of that data.
The bomber’s name, Salman Ramadan Abedi, was first revealed early on Tuesday by CBS in the U.S. and hours later the U.K. authorities put out a statement refusing to confirm the information until a formal identification had been completed. The police said any speculation would be “unhelpful and potentially damaging” to the investigation.
It was only much later in the day, that the U.K. confirmed his identity.
Before the Manchester attacks, Prime Minister Theresa May had said that Britain would continue to share intelligence with the U.S. and that she had confidence in the relationship between the two countries. On Wednesday, Rudd indicated that position would not change in spite of the government’s annoyance.
She said the Americans had not compromised the Manchester investigation and that the Trump administration is “perfectly clear about the situation.”
(c) 2017, Bloomberg · Alex Morales