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Anti-drone bods haul MoD to court over SECRET KILLER ROBOTS

Campaigners on mission to expose data on UK drone strikes in Afghanistan

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The Ministry of Defence is set to face a court hearing next week over its refusal to release information about Britain's lethal unmanned drone missions in Afghanistan.

It will appear in front of the Information Tribunal on 23 and 24 September in a bid to defend its decision to throw a veil of secrecy around the use of drones in combat.

Campaigners from Drone Wars UK have been using Freedom of Information legislation to tease out details of the UK's use of unmanned combat vehicles on the battlefield.

But the MoD refused to answer two questions which asked for the exact date and location of each drone attack, as well as details of whether how many times the Reaper drones fired weapons during both unplanned, reactive combat and scheduled operations.

The department said its refusal was based on the grounds that it would affect the "capability, effectiveness or security" of the armed forces and harm "relations between the UK and another State".

The campaigners launched an appeal with the Information Commissioner's Office, but were again knocked back when the Commissioner backed the MoD on both decisions, saying the release of the sensitive information would harm national security.

The next stage is a tribunal in the General Regulatory Chamber, which hears appeals against decisions of government regulators including the ICO.

Chris Cole, Drone Wars UK Co-ordinator, said: “The growing use of armed unmanned drones is a matter of serious public interest both here in the UK and around the world. In order to answer the many legal and ethical questions raised by such systems, a proper understanding of how they are being used on a day-to-day basis is needed and it is right that the public have access to such information.”

The hearing will be held in Court Room One at HMRC Tribunal Courts from 10am, although it is closed to the public. ®

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