THE British government is being asked to reopen an investigation into telecoms firm BT after new evidence appeared to link the company to illegal US drone strikes.
Legal charity Reprieve, which assists the civilian victims of drone strikes, has submitted a formal complaint to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) on the matter.
The charity says there is evidence that a cable laid by BT for the US military between RAF Croughton — a US base near Brackley in Northamptonshire — and Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti was tailored for use in the launching of drone strikes in Yemen and Somalia.
Reprieve argues that since the strikes are taking place in countries with which the US is not at war and have killed civilians, they violate international and domestic law.
The complaint also alleges BT’s complicity with intelligence agencies GCHQ and the NSA to engage in covert mass surveillance used to target drone strikes.
The UK National Contact Point (UK NCP), the arm of BIS which is supposed to promote and police the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) guidelines for multinationals, this week declined to investigate BT for alleged violations of the OECDs responsible business guidelines, saying it had no duty to do so.
Reprieve investigator Kevin Lo said: “It’s now clear there are serious questions to be asked about BT’s possible support for US drone strikes. The government should reopen its investigation as soon as possible, and demand some answers on behalf of the strikes’ civilian victims.”
A BT spokesman said: “UK NCP assessed Reprieve’s complaint in February and rejected it. BT can categorically state that the communications system mentioned in Reprieve’s complaint is a general purpose fibre-optic system. It has not been specifically designed or adapted by BT for military purposes, including drone strikes.”