Inquiry: British Police Bugged Muslim MP

February 6, 2008

Author: Simon Montlake

Source: The Christian Science Monitor

Britain has launched an official inquiry into allegations that police officers eavesdropped on meetings between a Muslim member of Parliament and a detained suspect sought by US prosecutors on terror-related charges. A former police officer has admitted bugging Sadiq Khan, a member of the ruling center-left Labour Party, during a prison visit with Babar Ahmad, a terrorist suspect, on orders from London's Metropolitan Police. The officer's admission has raised questions about the government's oversight role.

In the 1960s, Britain banned police from secretly monitoring MPs, but subsequent amendments have widened the scope of permitted surveillance – especially of ordinary citizens.

Mr. Ahmad, a Briton, faces US extradition charges over his alleged recruiting activities for Al Qaeda and other foreign militant groups, but isn't accused of breaking any British laws. Mr. Khan is a human rights lawyer and a prominent advocate for civil liberties.