British Deputy PM: Investigate Iraq Abuse Claims

Britain's Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg
Britain’s Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg (File Photo)

October 24, 2010 (KATAKAMI / VOA) — British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg says allegations of prisoner abuse and civilian killings in Iraq from a cache of leaked U.S. secret military documents are “extremely serious” and must be investigated.

Clegg told BBC television (The Andrew Marr Show) Sunday that while the actions of British forces in Iraq “need to be looked at,” it would be up to the U.S. administration to answer for the behavior of its own troops.

Britain’s Guardian newspaper has examined the files released by the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks in detail and says it found two cases in which Iraqis reported being abused by British soldiers.

Clegg’s Liberal Democratic Party opposed the invasion of Iraq, and he has called the war illegal. His party, in opposition when the war began, is now part of Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservative-led ruling coalition.

The Conservatives supported former British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s decision to join the U.S. invasion.

Britain’s Defense Ministry has joined U.S. officials in condemning the release of nearly 400,000 classified U.S. military documents from the Iraq war, saying it could put soldiers’ lives at risk.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange says the decision to release the documents “is about the truth” and that the documents contain no names or information harmful to any group or individual.

Among the revelations, the documents indicate more than 100,000 people were killed following the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, and that more than 60 percent of them were civilians. They also report 15,000 unknown or unreported deaths.

The files contain raw accounts from the battlefield, including incidents in which American soldiers killed civilians at checkpoints or fired on insurgents who had tried to surrender. The new documents also exhibit cases in which Iraqi forces abused Iraqi detainees.

The files indicate that while American forces informed Iraqi officials of the problems, they took no direct action to stop the abuse. There are also reports revealing Iran’s role in the war – such as incidents in which detainees spoke of having Iranian help – and the discovery of Iranian-supplied weapons.

Earlier this year, WikiLeaks published some 77,000 secret documents relating to the war in Afghanistan, including the names of Afghan informants.

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