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

Analysis: China Raises Hong Kong Rhetoric to Tiananmen Level

A front-page commentary in The People’s Daily called the current demonstrations 'chaos,' the same word Party officials used 25 years ago to describe the Tiananmen Square protests More

US Airstrikes Anger Syrian Civilians Fleeing Their Homes

Pentagon officials say they have seen no credible evidence of civilian deaths caused by US airstrikes against Islamic State militants More

Child Sexual Exploitation to Worsen in SE Asia

Southeast Asia’s planned economic integration is a key step for boosting the region’s productivity, but carries downsides as well 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.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid