British Gov't: Iraq Abuse Photos Faked

Photographs allegedly showing British troops threatening and urinating on a hooded Iraqi prisoner were "categorically not taken in Iraq," the British government said Thursday.

Armed Forces Minister Adam Ingram (search) said the truck seen in the photos published by the Daily Mirror (search) newspaper "was never in Iraq."

He said details of the evidence would not be disclosed while the investigation continues.

"We had to treat these photos at face value. That value has changed," Ingram told the House of Commons. "These pictures were categorically not taken in Iraq."

The Daily Mirror, which published the pictures on May 1, had said it was given the pictures by soldiers from the Queen's Lancashire Regiment (search) who were concerned at the conduct of "rogue elements" in the army.

The newspaper quoted the unidentified soldiers as saying the unarmed captive had been threatened with execution during eight hours of abuse and was left bleeding and vomiting. They said the captive was then driven away and dumped from the back of a moving vehicle, and that it was not known whether he survived.

The claims followed the publication in the United States of graphic images of prisoner abuse at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison (search) — images that have provoked international condemnation and threatened to undermine the coalition's efforts to rebuild Iraq.

The Mirror photos were among images plastered this week on desecrated gravestones at a Commonwealth cemetery in Gaza by Palestinian vandals angered by the prisoner abuse.

Prime Minister Tony Blair insisted Wednesday that there was no evidence of "systematic abuse" carried out by British troops.

Blair has come under pressure to explain why he and senior ministers only became aware of a damning Red Cross report only a few days ago. The report, issued in February, detailed allegations of abuse.

The leaked report says abuse of Iraqi prisoners by American soldiers at Abu Ghraib was widespread and routine and included brutality, humiliation and threats of "imminent execution."

It also alleged British mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners in southern Iraq, including hooding, but nothing as severe as the accusations against the U.S. forces.