Guardian disclosed in an article by Richard Norton-Taylor that Britain is owed hundreds of millions of pounds of unpaid debt on loans to autocratic governments in Argentina, Indonesia, Iraq and Zimbabwe for UK weapons and equipment that were used against civilians.
Britain lent Indonesia more than £630m to pay for British arms provided to General Suharto at a time when he was repressing protests. Some of the weapons, including armored cars and jet aircraft were used in the 1990s against civilians in what is now East Timor, the former foreign secretary, Robin Cook, admitted at the time.
Up to £50m was lent to the Argentinean junta to buy British arms before the invasion of the Falklands in 1982. They included two Type 42 destroyers, two Lynx helicopters, and 22 Sea Dart missiles, according to documents in the National Archives discovered by the Jubilee Debt Campaign (JDC), which is calling for an end to what it calls "unjust poor country debts". One of the Lynx was the first Argentine aircraft to land on the Falklands after the invasion.
The British government lent £12m for the export of Land Rovers to President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe. The vehicles were supplied after he claimed they would be used "with due respect for human rights". Although Mugabe said he would not use them for suppressing protests, Amnesty International said vehicles were used to crush popular protests.
Some £100m of unpaid loans were originally provided to Egypt under the former president Hosni Mubarak to buy British weapons.
Also Tim Jones, Policy Officer at Jubilee Debt Campaign in the UK said, "For years the UK government has claimed it is not possible to find out where debts come from. The figures released show this was a lie. They reveal a history of horrendous loans to dictators such as Mubarak, Suharto and Saddam Hussein for military equipment. People in these countries should not have to pay these unjust debts."
The figures are included in a report on sovereign debt data by UK Export Finance, part of the Department for Business. It is the first time the department has disclosed such country-by-country figures.