News / Europe

Close Cameron Aides Asked Paper to Destroy Snowden Data

Copies of the Guardian newspaper are displayed at a newsstand in London, August 21 2013.
Copies of the Guardian newspaper are displayed at a newsstand in London, August 21 2013.
Two of British Prime Minister David Cameron's most senior aides pressed the Guardian newspaper to hand over or destroy intelligence secrets leaked by Edward Snowden, political sources said on Wednesday.
News that Cabinet Secretary Jeremy Heywood and National Security Adviser Kim Darroch were involved drags Cameron into a storm over Britain's response to coverage of leaks from the fugitive U.S. intelligence contractor - a response that left even its U.S. ally talking of the importance of media freedom.
Cameron, on holiday in Cornwall, made no immediate comment.
The Guardian, media freedom activists and human rights lawyers say pressure on the paper over the Snowden material and the separate detention of the partner of a Guardian journalist on Sunday have represented an assault on independent journalism.
The government says its intelligence agencies act within the law and the Snowden leaks, which revealed U.S. and British surveillance of global communication networks, threaten national security. The United States has brought espionage charges against Snowden, who has found temporary asylum in Russia.
Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger said on Tuesday that he had been approached weeks ago by “a very senior official claiming to represent the views of the prime minister” and by “shadowy Whitehall figures," a reference to London's government district. Rusbridger said he had been told the paper would face legal action if it refused to destroy or hand over data from Snowden.
Later, two intelligence agents oversaw the destruction of hard drives at Guardian offices, but Rusbridger said this would not stop reporting as there were copies elsewhere in the world.
A White House spokesman said on Tuesday that it was hard to imagine the U.S. authorities taking such action against a media organization, even to protect national security.
Several sources said Heywood and Darroch were among those who had contacted the paper. Heywood is Britain's most senior civil servant and Cameron's top policy adviser; Darroch is the prime minister's senior adviser on national security issues.
“The prime minister asked the Cabinet Secretary to deal with this matter, that's true,” one source told Reuters.
“You won't be surprised to hear that [Darroch] also got involved with this,” said another source.
Home Secretary Theresa May, the interior minister, defended the government's actions.
“I think issues of national security are rightly addressed at an appropriate level within government and I do not find it surprising that someone at a very senior level within government should be involved in this particular issue,” May told the BBC.
“Stolen information”
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, leader of the Liberal Democrats in the coalition with Cameron's Conservatives, said through a spokesman it was “reasonable” for Heywood to request that the Guardian destroy data that “would represent a serious threat to national security if it fell into the wrong hands”.
“The deputy prime minister felt this was a preferable approach to taking legal action. He was keen to protect the Guardian's freedom to publish, whilst taking the necessary steps to safeguard security,” Clegg's spokesman said.
Rusbridger's revelations about the phone calls from the heart of government and the destruction of data have amplified a controversy over the detention at London's Heathrow airport on Sunday of David Miranda, the partner of a Guardian journalist.
Miranda, a Brazilian who was in transit from Berlin to Rio de Janeiro, was held for nine hours under an anti-terrorism law before being released without charge minus his laptop, phone and memory sticks.
He is the partner of Glenn Greenwald, a Rio-based American who has led the Guardian's coverage of intelligence secrets leaked by Snowden. Miranda had been ferrying documents between Greenwald and a Berlin-based journalist contact of Snowden.
It was unclear what information the documents contained.
Brazil has said Miranda's detention had “no justification”, while Miranda has launched a personal legal action against the police and the government, accusing them of abusing anti-terrorism powers to get hold of sensitive journalistic material.
Russia, a frequent target of British criticism over human rights, took a swipe at what it called double standards in comments by a Moscow Foreign Ministry spokesman.
But May said: “It is the duty of government to protect the public and it is absolutely right, if the police believe that somebody has in their possession highly sensitive stolen information that could help terrorists, that could lead to a loss of lives, it's right that the police should act.”

You May Like

Afghanistan, Pakistan Leaders to Hold Icebreaking Talks in Paris

Two sides are expected to discuss ways to ease bilateral tensions and jointly work for resumption of stalled peace talks between Afghan government and Taliban officials

Corruption Busting Is Her Game

South African activist is building 'international online community of thousands of corruption fighters'

Former SAF Businessman Gives Books, Love of Reading to Students

Steve Tsakaris now involved in nonprofit Read to Rise, which distributes books in Soweto, encourages lower-grade primary school students to read

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continuesi
Ayesha Tanzeem
November 25, 2015 10:46 PM
One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs