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Court throws out Pakistan 'intelligence sharing' case

Human rights campaigners condemn London court as 'shameful' for striking down Noor Khan case

Human rights campaigners condemned a London court's "shameful" decision yesterday to strike down the case of Noor Khan, whose father was killed in a US-led bombing in Pakistan's North Waziristan in 2011.

Mr Khan's lawyers had sought a judicial review of British intelligence agencies' role in the attack.

Malik Daud Khan was one of 50 people believed to have died in the strike, including five police officers and a child.

While Britain's GCHQ base in Cheltenham has been widely reported as gleaning information for US drone operations from tapped phone calls, Britain is not at war with Pakistan - meaning officials who knowingly shared such information were "encouraging or assisting murder" or a war crime.

Lawyer Martin Chamberlain had told the court that the killings demanded legal review - "even where the killing takes place abroad."

But a panel of three judges said yesterday that they had accepted the government's argument against a hearing that a finding that the bombers were guilty of murder "would inevitably be understood ... by the US as a condemnation of the US."

Mr Khan said that the government appeared to have "put itself above the law.

"However, I am still determined to get answers from the Westminster government about the part it has played in the death of my father," he said.

Human rights charity Reprieve legal director Kat Craig described the ruling as "shameful."

She said: "It now appears that the Westminster government can get away with murder, provided it is committed alongside an ally who may be sensitive to public criticism.

"It is a sad day when the rights of civilian victims of drone strikes take second place to the PR concerns of the US government," she said.

Around 3,000 people are believed to have died in drone bombings across Pakistan since the CIA programme began in 2004.

Exact figures are disputed due to the programme's secrecy and its focus on far-flung regions, but the Bureau of Investigative Journalism reports between 416 and 951 civilian deaths - including up to 200 children - and more than 1,000 injured.

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