– In a leak of sensitive data, the names, e.mail addresses and photographs of 250 Afghans who worked as interpreters for the British forces deployed in Afghanistan were disclosed, putting their safety at risk and creating new turmoil in the London government .
“To say that this situation made me angry is an understatement,” commented the Secretary of Defense, Ben Wallace, announcing the opening of an investigation to shed full light on the incident and making a formal apology during a session at the House of Commons.
The British media reported that the email addresses of more than 250 Afghans who are trying to leave their country, which has returned under the rule of the Taliban, to reach the United Kingdom.
According to the reconstruction of the facts, the addresses were all copied by mistake in an e.mail from the Ministry of Defense, allowing all recipients of the message to see the names of the individual interpreters and in many cases also their associated photos.
After this error a second email was sent to the same recipients, in which they were advised to delete the previous message and change their email addresses. Pending the results of the ongoing investigation, one person has been suspended.
Criticism within the majority itself and accusations from the opposition were not long in coming. On Twitter, Conservative MP Johnny Mercer denounced “criminal negligence” that will likely force interpreters to “move home immediately” to avoid reprisals.
“We have told these interpreters that we will ensure their safety, but this data leak has unnecessarily put their lives in danger,” lamented John Healey, head of defense affairs in Labor, the main opposition party, on Twitter. The Labor MP asked the government to “step up its efforts to get these Afghans safely to the UK”.
Since the launch of the UK program Arabic, destined to repatriate local personnel employed by British forces, some 68,000 Afghans have applied to join the procedure. Moreover, the complex situation created in Afghanistan has already earned the seat of the Foreign Minister, Dominic Raab, heavily criticized for having stayed on vacation while Kabul fell into the hands of the Taliban. Raab was replaced in a government reshuffle last week by Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson.