Charges dropped against Foreign Office source

All six charges under the Official Secrets Act against a Foreign Office civil servant accused of leaking documents to the New Statesman and the Observer have been dropped.

Derek Pasquill, who was first arrested in January 2006 and suspended from his job, was accused of leaking documents about Government policy on extraordinary rendition and on radical Islam. The Observer and New Statesman published a series of articles about these issues in late 2005.

Pasquill, who first appeared in court in October last year, was charged on six counts under the Official Secrets Act with disclosing a letter entitled “Detainees” – a reference to terrorist suspects rendered to interrogation centres by the US – and two letters titled “Engaging with Islamists” and “Hearts and minds and Muslims”.

John Kampfner, editor of the New Statesman, said: ‘This is a huge story, but also a great victory for free speech. Most of all, it brings to an end two years of terrible stress for Mr Pasquill.

‘This was a misguided and malicious prosecution, particularly given that a number of government ministers privately acknowledged from the outset that the information provided to us by Derek Pasquill has been in the public interest and was responsible in large part for changing Government policy for the good in terms of extraordinary rendition and policy towards radical Islam.”

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