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Bowing to 'US PR Concerns,' UK Court Blocks Lawsuit for Drone Death

Noor Khan: 'I used to think that Britain stood for justice, but now it seems as though the Government has put itself above the law'

- Sarah Lazare, staff writer

Pakistani tribesman Noor Khan (left) is challenging the government in the English courts (Reprieve)A UK court has blocked a lawsuit against the British government for participating in U.S. drone strikes on the grounds the case would make the U.S. look bad.

Twenty-eight year old Noor Khan sought accountability from the UK intelligence agency GCHQ for its role in a CIA drone strike on a local council meeting in North Waziristan that killed his father, a local elder, in 2011.

Khan brought the case against the UK government upon evidence that GCHQ has been aiding the CIA’s covert drone war in Pakistan.

According to human rights charity Reprieve, Khan's lawyers charged that the UK's participation in the drone campaign is illegal and could result in murder charges for UK officials.

Yet Khan was told by London's Court of Appeal on Monday that the case cannot continue because "the court would have to find the CIA implicitly guilty of a war crime before it could consider whether GCHQ had been involved," according to a Guardian summary of the ruling.

"[A] finding by our court that the notional UK operator of a drone bomb which caused a death was guilty of murder would inevitably be understood…by the U.S. as a condemnation of the U.S.," UK government lawyers had argued.

Yet Khan said he will not be deterred from "getting answers from the UK" for their role in the death of his father. "I used to think that Britain stood for justice, but now it seems as though the Government has put itself above the law," he stated.

"The CIA’s drone program has not only killed hundreds of civilians, but is turning people in Pakistan against the U.S. and its allies," he added. "This is why I was so upset to hear that Britain is helping the CIA to carry out these killings, and even more upset when the government refused to respond to my questions."

Kat Craig, legal director at Reprieve, declared, "It is a sad day when the rights of civilian victims of drone strikes take second place to the PR concerns of the U.S. Government.”