U.K. inquiry into bugging of Muslim MP

Feb. 4, 2008 at 7:27 PM
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WASHINGTON, Feb. 4 (UPI) -- The British government says it will look into reports that police secretly recorded conversations between a Muslim lawmaker and an imprisoned constituent.

Justice Secretary Jack Straw told the House of Commons in a statement Monday that Chief Surveillance Commissioner Sir Christopher Rose would conduct a quick "fact-finding" inquiry, following reports in the London papers at the weekend that MP Sadiq Khan, a whip in the Parliamentary Labor Party, was covertly recorded during two visits he made to Babar Ahmad at Woodhill jail in 2005 and 2006.

Ahmad was at that time fighting extradition to the United States on charges that he ran a Web site that raised funds for Islamic terror groups.

His extradition was sought under controversial new laws that make it easier for accused terrorists to be transferred to the United States and were widely opposed in Britain.

Straw told MPs the inquiry would find out whether any form of surveillance took place at the jail in 2005 and 2006 and, if so, who authorized it. He said he expected the inquiry to take two weeks and promised to report again to Parliament as soon as it was complete.

Straw said that ministers had not signed off on the bugging, which was of the kind routinely authorized by a regional chief police office.

"Where any (surveillance) operation involves the use of premises of H.M. Prison Service, neither the service, nor the minister concerned are asked for any additional authorization for the particular operation," he said.

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