Drone victim to appeal ruling over UK support for CIA strikes in Pakistan

December 21, 2012

Image of Noor Khan & Kareem Khan

A Pakistani man whose father was killed by a US drone strike is to appeal a judgement handed down today in a case seeking to determine the legality of intelligence sharing in relation to GCHQ assistance in CIA drone strikes.

Noor Khan – whose father was killed in a CIA strike on a peaceful meeting in March 2011 –issued legal proceedings in March of this year against the Foreign Secretary in order to clarify the British Government’s reported policy of supporting the CIA’s covert campaign of attacks on his home region of Waziristan, using remotely-controlled robotic aircraft. Supported by legal action charity Reprieve and solicitors Leigh Day & Co, Mr Khan’s legal challenge asserts that this practice are illegal. British law makes it clear that in these circumstances UK intelligence staff and those who direct their actions could be committing various criminal offences, including conspiracy to murder.

Mr Khan was today denied permission to progress his case to a full hearing, but intends to appeal his case immediately.

The issue of CIA drones killing innocent civilians is also being pursued before the Peshawar High Court in Pakistan, where Chief Justice Dost Muhammad has already instructed the Pakistani Government to share details of strikes including that of March 2011 with the parties in order to determine the extent of the casualties.

Kat Craig, legal director of Reprieve, said: “CIA drone attacks in Pakistan terrorise entire communities of innocent civilians in a country with which the UK is not at war. By avoiding judicial scrutiny over drone attacks, combined with its ongoing attempts to push through secret courts, this government is showing a disturbing desire to put itself above the law. We should not be involved in secret, dirty wars, where civilian casualties are ignored or hushed up.  If the Government is supporting the CIA’s campaign of drone strikes which are illegal, the British public have the right to know.”

The suit in the Peshawar High Court is also asking the Pakistani government to disclose their involvement – if any – in the drone strikes.  The next hearing in this case is expected early next year when the Pakistani government will have to disclose the identities of those killed in the strikes.

Rosa Curling, from Leigh Day, said: “We are disappointed that the court has decided not to engage in this very important issue, leaving our client no option but to appeal the decision. This claim raises very serious questions and issues about the UK’s involvement in the CIA drone attacks in Pakistan. This case seeks to determine the legality of intelligence sharing in relation to GCHQ assistance in CIA drone strikes. Those providing such information could be committing serious criminal offences, including conspiracy to murder.”


Notes to editors:

1. For further information, please contact Clemency Wells in Reprieve’s press office: +44 (0) 207 553 8166 / clemency.wells [AT] reprieve.org.uk or see http://www.reprieve.org.uk/cases/2012_03_28_noor_khan/

2. Reprieve, a legal action charity, uses the law to enforce the human rights of prisoners, from death row to Guantánamo Bay. Reprieve investigates, litigates and educates, working on the frontline, to provide legal support to prisoners unable to pay for it themselves. Reprieve promotes the rule of law around the world, securing each person’s right to a fair trial and saving lives.  Clive Stafford Smith is the founder of Reprieve and has spent 25 years working on behalf of people facing the death penalty in the USA.

Reprieve’s current casework involves representing 15 prisoners in the US prison at Guantánamo Bay, assisting over 70 prisoners facing the death penalty around the world, and conducting ongoing investigations into the rendition and the secret detention of ‘ghost prisoners’ in the so-called ‘war on terror.’ Follow Reprieve on twitter: @ReprieveUK; if you were forwarded this release, sign up to join our press mailing list.

Follow Reprieve on twitter: @ReprieveUK; if you were forwarded this release, sign up to join our press mailing list.