UK whistleblower faces 10-day deadline in Afghanistan war crimes inquiry

LONDON — Johnny Mercer, the former UK Minister for Veterans Affairs, who had previously acknowledged war crimes by British soldiers in Afghanistan, has been given a 10-day deadline to substantiate his claim. Failure to provide the necessary names and information to the investigative team within this time frame could result in imprisonment.

British media reported Tuesday that Mercer, following his allegations regarding the killing of Afghan civilians by British forces, was ordered to reveal the sources of his information.

The BBC reported that a public inquiry commissioned by the UK government into the actions of its forces in Afghanistan has directed Mercer to disclose the names of individuals who leaked information to him about alleged war crimes and cover-ups by special forces, or he may face imprisonment.

The issue of Afghan civilian deaths at the hands of British special forces has been a contentious topic in both countries’ media for the past two years. Although separate investigations have sought to verify these claims, the British government has yet to officially confirm them.

Earlier this month, Mercer, who served in military missions in Afghanistan, told the court that despite the information he possesses, he cannot confirm the killing of Afghan civilians by British forces between 2010 and 2013.

In court, he also stated that the claim British soldiers killed unarmed civilians in their sleep does not contradict his findings, but he admitted reluctance to believe it.

According to Mercer, British forces were allegedly instructed to carry an unregistered weapon — one not associated with NATO forces — to place next to the unarmed Afghan individuals they had killed.

Mercer refrained from revealing the identities of his informants, emphasizing their confidentiality.