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.
Reuters
— 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

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
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.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid