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Trump threatens prosecution over Manchester attack leaks

US president defends UK-US 'special relationship' following the breakdown in relations between the two countries' intelligence services
Trump speaks in Brussels after a meeting with Nato chief, Jens Stoltenberg (AFP)

US President Donald Trump on Thursday slammed as "deeply troubling" US leaks on the probe into the Manchester suicide bombing, warning those responsible that they could face prosecution.

In a statement issued by the White House, the US president said he had ordered the Department of Justice and other agencies to launch a full review of leaks he described as "a grave threat to our national security."

"The alleged leaks coming out of government agencies are deeply troubling," Trump said. "If appropriate, the culprit should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."

"There is no relationship we cherish more than the special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom," Trump added.

The New York Times published a picture of the remains of the bomb used in Manchester

The UK said on Thursday it would stop sharing information on the Manchester bombing with the US, the BBC and the Reuters news agency reported, following the leaks.

But later in the day, British police said they had resumed sharing information with US agencies after receiving "fresh assurances", ending the suspension.

"While we do not usually comment on information sharing arrangements ... having received fresh assurances, we are now working closely with our key partners around the world including all those in the 'Five Eyes' intelligence alliance," said Mark Rowley, Britain's lead officer for counter-terrorism policing.

The Five Eyes alliance is made up of Britain, the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

British Prime Minister Theresa May had raised British concerns with Trump at a NATO summit in Brussels on Thursday, telling him intelligence shared between their two countries had to remain secure. It was a rare public show of dissatisfaction with Britain's closest security ally.

"She expressed the view that the intelligence-sharing relationship we have with the US is hugely important and valuable, but that the information that we share should be kept secure," a British government source said.

Leaks from the investigation into the Manchester attack are undermining the investigation, British police said on Thursday after details of the probe were revealed in France and the US.

A spokesman for Britain's anti-terrorism police said investigators relied on trust with its allies, adding: "When that trust is breached it undermines these relationships and undermines our investigations".

Amber Rudd, the British home secretary, on Wednesday roasted the US homeland security department and other intelligence branches after the bomber's identity and details of the probe were leaked to US media before British officials felt ready to disclose them.

Trump has in recent weeks been criticised for divulging classified information to Russian officials.

The Washington Post said last week the president had relayed information to the Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, and the Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, which had been provided by a US partner through a highly sensitive intelligence-sharing arrangement.

US officials informed on the matter told the newspaper that the US did not have permission to share the intelligence and that the leak jeopardises cooperation with the source, which has "access to the inner workings of the Islamic State".

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