Europe News

Manchester bombing: Trump calls alleged intel leaks 'deeply troubling'

Erik Ortiz
President, Donald Trump and British Prime Minister, Theresa May are pictured ahead of a photo opportunity of leaders as they arrive for a NATO summit meeting on May 25, 2017 in Brussels, Belgium.
Getty Images

President Donald Trump said Thursday that alleged intelligence leaks that have surfaced after the Manchester Arena bombing are "deeply troubling" and has ordered the Justice Department to review who's behind them.

Trump's statement, released by the White House during a summit with world leaders, didn't mention Monday night's terror attack in Manchester by name, but comes after British Prime Minister Theresa May said she would tell her American counterpart that security intelligence must remain tightly held between the longstanding allies.

British authorities are continuing to investigate the suicide bombing outside of an Ariana Grande concert that killed 22 and was carried out by a Manchester-born man whose family is accused of having terrorist ties in Libya, officials said.

More from NBC News:
Health care bill impact on premiums, uninsured, pre-existing conditions
Cannabis drug reduces seizures in severe epilepsy cases
Vermont doctor handles vaccine skeptics with a listen-first approach

Photos were published by The New York Times on Wednesday of evidence collected from the carnage — a public display that British counterterrorism officials strongly objected to because they said it "undermines our investigations."

A senior U.S. law enforcement official told NBC News that the same photos were provided by British authorities to American investigators. The Times didn't disclose how it obtained the photos.

Frustrated British police trying to determine a motive for the attack responded that they would stop sharing information with United States law enforcement, the BBC first reported.

May also said she will make clear to Trump during Thursday's NATO summit in Brussels that she wants the countries' shared intelligence to be protected.

"We have a special relationship with the USA. It is our deepest defense and security partnership that we have. Of course that partnership is built on trust, and part of that trust is knowing that intelligence can be shared confidently," May told reporters.

Trump reiterated in his statement that he wants the Justice Department to review the matter and any culprits would be "prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."

"The alleged leaks coming out of government agencies are deeply troubling," Trump said. "These leaks have been going on for a long time and my Administration will get to the bottom of this."

The president has repeatedly expressed aggravation with high-profile leaks concerning his administration, some that played a part in the resignation of national security adviser Mike Flynn. In February, Trump directed the Justice Department to investigate "criminal leaks" and claimed those leakers were holdovers from the Obama administration.

Trump, while in Jerusalem on Tuesday, condemned the Manchester bombing and said "dozens of innocent people, beautiful young children, [were] savagely murdered in this heinous attack upon humanity."

The suspected bomber was identified as 22-year-old Salman Abedi, who was previously on the radar of the U.S. intelligence community. Multiple U.S. officials told NBC News that he had traveled to Libya and may also have entered Syria.

But it was not immediately known whether Abedi had any training or specific ties to foreign terrorist groups.

At least six suspects have been arrested so far in the case, including the suspect's brother and father, both taken into custody in the Libyan capital of Tripoli, NBC News' U.K. partner ITV News reported Wednesday.

"It is very clear this is a network we are investigating," Manchester police chief Ian Hopkins said.