British authorities investigating the deadly Manchester suicide bombing are reportedly no longer sharing intelligence with United States officials following multiple leaks of information to the media.
According to a BBC report, British officials are angered over a leak of photos that appear to show the remnants of an explosive device believed to the one used in the suicide attack at Manchester Arena.
The pictures published by The New York Times show fragments of a blue Karrimor backpack, with carefully packed shrapnel that consisted of nuts and screws, strewn across the lobby of the Manchester Arena.
Other images show what could be a possible detonator, and a 12-volt battery.
Following the Times publication of the leaked images, British police chiefs released a statement warning the breach of information could hamper the investigation to the terror attack and harm international relationships.
“We greatly value the important relationships we have with our trusted intelligence, law enforcement and security partners around the world,” National Police Chiefs’ Council said in the statement. “These relationships enable us to collaborate and share privileged and sensitive information that allows us to defeat terrorism and protect the public at home and abroad.
“When that trust is breached it undermines these relationships, and undermines our investigations and the confidence of victims, witnesses and their families. This damage is even greater when it involves unauthorised disclosure of potential evidence in the middle of a major counter terrorism investigation,” the statement reads.
Providing an update into the investigation Thursday, Greater Manchester Police Chief Constable Ian Hopkins addressed the leaks saying it’s distressing to the victims’ families.
“Last night the family liaison officers shared [with the families] the fact that intelligence had been leaked and published in The New York Times,” Hopkins explained. “It is absolutely understandable that this has caused much distress for families that are already suffering terribly with their loss.”
Just hours after the deadly bombing, U.S. intelligence officials also prematurely leaked information about the suspected bomber which led to the publication Salman Abedi’s name, as well the fact that the attack was a suicide bomb.
British Home Secretary Amber Rudd said she was “irritated” about the leak.
“The British police have been very clear that they want to control the flow of information in order to protect operational integrity, the element of surprise,” Rudd said.
“So it is irritating if it gets released from other sources, and I have been very clear with our [American] friends that that should not happen again.”
Citing an unnamed government source, British newspaper The Guardian reported U.K. officials “are furious” over the leaks that are “completely unacceptable.”
British Prime Minister Theresa May is reportedly expected to address the information leak with U.S. President Donald Trump at the NATO Summit in Brussels Thursday.