The New York Times has come under fire for publishing preliminary photos from the investigation of Monday’s terrorist bombing in Manchester, England, with both Manchester police and top British government officials decrying the leaks.
The publication of photos of bombing debris — published first in the Times and subsequently by U.K. media — has caused “much distress for families that are already suffering terribly with their loss,” Greater Manchester chief constable Ian Hopkins told the BBC.
Prime Minister Theresa May has said she plans to discuss the leaks with President Donald Trump at a NATO meeting in Brussels on Thursday, and that shared intelligence between the two countries “must remain secure,” according to the BBC. “We are furious. This is completely unacceptable,” a top British government official told the BBC.
It is not clear, however, whether British or U.S. intelligence contacts might be responsible for leaking the material, which was attributed in the Times story to “preliminary information gathered by British authorities.”
“The images and information presented were neither graphic nor disrespectful of victims, and are consistent with the common line of reporting on weapons used in horrific crimes, as The Times and other media outlets have done following terrorist acts around the world, from Boston to Paris to Baghdad, and many places in between,” a New York Times spokesperson told TheWrap.
The spokesperson continued: “Our mission is to cover news and inform our readers. We have strict guidelines on how and in what ways we cover sensitive stories. Our coverage of Monday’s heinous attack has been both comprehensive and responsible.”
The Times published evidence gathered at the scene of the deadly attack that killed at least 22 people and injured 64 more. Counterterror police told the BBC that the published materials from the initial investigation may undermine the investigation and impact the confidence of witnesses to come forward.
The photos the Times published include the remnants of a backpack, nuts and screws, and a device identified as a “possible detonator,” according to the BBC. The photos were eventually picked up and published in the U.K. media.
Suicide bomber Salman Abedi set off a homemade bomb in England’s Manchester Arena toward the end of a concert by the American pop star Ariana Grande. It is the worst terrorist attack in the U.K. since the London bombings on July 7, 2005, that claimed 52 lives.
Abedi, 22, was born in Manchester to parents of Libyan origin, according to the BBC. Many of his victims were young female fans of the pop singer.
Manchester Arena is the largest indoor arena in Europe with a capacity for 21,000 people, according to its website.