Security services accused of set-up

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The Independent Online
A former British military officer imprisoned in India has accused the Ministry of Defence of leaving him to face charges of arms smuggling when he was actually helping British and Indian intelligence.

In a case reminiscent of the Matrix Churchill affair, Peter Bleach, 44, from Yorkshire, is to be tried for treason in Calcutta even though he played a key role in helping foil an arms delivery parachuted to Hindu extremists last year.

"The entire operation should have been a perfect trap for the terrorists. Instead, everybody of any importance was allowed to escape," Mr Bleach said. "I think that the police are setting me up to take the consequences."

Mr Bleach was arrested with a Latvian crew last December and accused of having air-dropped three crates of arms to be used in an insurrection in West Bengal state. But the Independent has learnt that he had earlier tipped off the MoD about the plot. His trial is due to start in several weeks, and he could face a death penalty in India if convicted.

The case has clear echoes of the Matrix Churchill affair, in which British businessmen were charged with supplying arms to Iraq, even though they had been helping British intelligence.

The MoD last night referred all queries to the Foreign Office, which said it was treating Mr Bleach just like any other Briton imprisoned abroad.

Sting backfires, page 8

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