Republican News · Thursday 24 August 2000

[An Phoblacht]

British Government `climb down' on Shayler claims


The former MI5 agent now charged with breaching Britain's Official Secrets Act has claimed an initial victory this week in what he has termed a `climb down' by the British government.

Shayler, who is set to appear at Bow Street Magistrate's Court in London today, has amazingly evaded charges relating to the most serious allegations he made. While he has been charged in relation to accusations of incompetence levelled by him against MI5 in 1997 (and claims that they hold `subversive' files on leading Labour MPs) Shayler's revelation that MI6 secretly attempted to assassinate the Libyan leader, Colonel Muammar Gadafy, have attracted no charges.

``It was farcical that I was being made a criminal for reporting a crime. It is only because this government system is so myopic,'' Shayler said, following his release on bail from Charing Cross police station in London this week. ``Today does represent a climb-down and quite clearly a back down from what was a very draconian and repressive position.''

However, this `back down' could also be viewed as an attempt to silence his claims on the Gadafy assassination attempt - Shayler will not be allowed speak on the Gadafy plot when giving evidence at his trial.

Meanwhile, four members of a Channel 4 independent production crew have been detained in Liberia charged with espionage this week. It is claimed that the team from Insight News, comprising two Britons, a Sierra Leonean and a South African, had documents confiscated from their hotel rooms which confirm that they were using ``prepackaged'' material to build a case against Liberia on behalf of British and American intelligence interests.

Both Britain and the US have alleged that the Liberian Government is prolonging the war in Sierra Leone because it is in their financial interests. While Channel 4 officials are denying any wrongdoing on the part of the crew, the Liberian Government claims that they had been sent with ``the purpose of injuring Liberia''.

Dutch journalist Jackie Maris, recently returned from Liberia, told An Phoblacht that although she cannot support the Liberian Government, it is her contention that there was something less than innocent about the Insight News crew. Of the confiscated document itself, she said there were questions to be answered about whether it was prepackaged or written by the journalists themselves, as claimed by Channel 4.

``Despite the fact that those supposed to be writing the scripts were not native English speakers, or especially gifted at that language, it is strange that the document had been written with such unusual fluency,'' she said.

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