MANCHESTER, England – British police arrested two more people and searched a new site in Manchester suspected of links to the concert bombing that left 22 people dead, as British authorities complained bitterly Thursday about investigation leaks by U.S. officials.
British Prime Minister Theresa May is expected to raise the issue of the leaks with President Donald Trump in Brussels later. British officials are particularly angry that photos detailing evidence about the bomb used in the Manchester attack were published in The New York Times.
British security and law enforcement officials were reviewing whether other sensitive information involving the investigation should be shared, according to one official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak about the ongoing investigation.
The official added that the intelligence-sharing agreement between Britain and the United States is built on trust and that leaks jeopardize active investigations.
Greater Manchester Police condemned the leaks on behalf of the National Counter-Terrorism Policing units in a statement that suggested a severe rupture in trust between Britain and the United States, who have traditionally shared intelligence at the highest levels.
“When the trust is breached it undermines these relationships, and undermines our investigations and the confidence of victims, witnesses and their family,” the statement said. “This damage is even greater when it involves unauthorized disclosure of potential evidence in the middle of a major counter terrorism investigation.”
British police and security services are also upset that the name of British bomber Salman Abedi was apparently leaked by U.S. officials and published while police in Britain were withholding the name for operational security.
The bomber’s name was allegedly released by U.S. officials just as raids were underway both in Manchester and in Libya where the bomber’s father lives.
Home Secretary Amber Rudd complained the leaks could cost police “the element of surprise” in their bid to prevent future attacks.
British officials, who have also had access to sensitive information regarding past U.S.-focused investigations, are bound by the Official Secrets Act. The act prohibits them from sharing sensitive information regarding national security but also prevents them from sharing security information involving other countries.
As hundreds of British soldiers rush to protect some of the world’s most visited tourist sites in London and elsewhere, police are pressing to uncover the network that is thought to have helped Abedi in the deadly attack.
Greater Manchester Police say two men were arrested overnight in Manchester and in the Withington area south of the city. Officers also raided a property in the city’s Moss Side neighbourhood early Thursday and carried out a controlled explosion.
Eight men have now been detained in Britain connection with Monday’s attack. Those include Abedi’s brother Ismail, his father Ramadan Abedi told The Associated Press. A woman was arrested late Wednesday but was later released without charge.
The senior Abedi denied that his son Salman had links to militants, telling the AP in an interview “we don’t believe in killing innocents” before being taken into custody in Libya, along with another son, Hashim.
With Britain’s terrorism threat level at “critical,” meaning a new attack may be imminent, police are working around the clock to try to deter another atrocity.
Abedi died in Monday’s blast at an Ariana Grande concert. Grande cancelled concerts that were to take place Thursday and Friday in London, and in several other sites in Europe.
Dodds and Katz reported from London.