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BT bosses dismiss concerns over US drone connection

CALLOUS British Telecom bosses waved away concerns yesterday over the use of its equipment in a US drone programme during its annual shareholders’ meeting.

The communications group was confronted by human rights charity Reprieve on technical support given to a secret US base in Djibouti from which drone strikes are often launched into Yemen.

BT chairman Michael Rake told the AGM: “We cannot be held responsible, cannot know, cannot seek to know what people do with our telecommunications equipment.”

Equipment provided by the group included fibre-optic links necessary for video transmission feeding from the drones.

Some of the missions conducted with BT technology are suspected of having broken international and domestic law for snooping on countries the US is not at war with. 

Reprieve’s corporate social responsibility advocate Kevin Lo said: “BT cannot continue to bury its head in the sand over allegations that it is supporting illegal drone strikes.

“Sir Michael cannot simply wash his hands of the possibility that his company is supporting a campaign — knowingly or otherwise — that has killed hundreds of civilians and violates international law.”

The organisation is legally challenging the British government for failing to investigate BT.

A complaint was placed with Britain’s National Contact Point branch which oversees the operations of multinational companies and supervises standards.

But the contact point branch believed it was outside its remit to “conduct research or interrogate” into BT’s dealings with the US military.

Reprieve has suggested the branch’s dismissal might be linked to its new boss Lord Livingston — the chief executive of BT until late last year.

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