New documents yet more evidence of UK & European role in US drone strikes

June 24, 2015

Image of a drone flying

The Guardian and the New York Times have today revealed the existence of documents showing the contribution made by UK intelligence agency GCHQ to US drone strikes in Yemen.

The British Government has to date refused to comment on its role in such strikes, describing them consistently as “a matter for the Yemeni and US Governments.”

However, human rights organization Reprieve has previously raised concerns over European complicity in covert drone strikes – considered by many experts to be in violation of international law – through the sharing of intelligence and the provision of infrastructure.

In Germany, Reprieve has helped civilian drone strike victim Faisal bin ali Jaber to bring a case against the Government over the role played in Yemen strikes by the military base at Ramstein.

Meanwhile, in the UK, Reprieve unearthed a contract showing that a high-tech data link had been provided between RAF Croughton – a base leased by the US in Northamptonshire – and Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti, from where US strikes against Yemen have reportedly been launched.

Commenting, Reprieve legal director Kat Craig said:

“This is yet more damning evidence of the key role played by the UK in the illegal US drone war.  This campaign has taken place in the shadows, killing hundreds of civilians while leaving their families with no access to justice.  President Obama won’t even confirm it is taking place; while the UK and Germany follow his lead by stonewalling questions on the part they play.  It is time Europe came clean on the support it provides to this misguided campaign, which the evidence suggests is making the world a more dangerous place for all of us.”


Notes to editors

1. For further information, please contact Reprieve’s press office: +44 (0) 207 553 8166 in the UK or +1 917 855 8064 in the US.

2. For UK Government responses to questions on drone strikes see, for example, Foreign Office Minister Hugh Robertson, Hansard, 30 Jan 2014 Column 691W: “Drone strikes against terrorist targets in Yemen are a matter for the Yemeni and US Governments. We expect all concerned to act in accordance with international law and take all feasible precautions to avoid civilian casualties when conducting operations.”

3. On the data link between RAF Croughton and Camp Lemmonier, see ‘US Drones bombing Africa operated from RAF bases in the heart of the Lincolnshire countryside,’ Mail on Sunday, March 10, 2013.