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

Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Seen as a potential driver of recovery, Cairo’s plan to expand waterway had been raising hopes to give country much needed economic boost More

Ebola Maternity Ward in Sierra Leone First of its Kind

Country already had one of world's highest maternal mortality rates before Ebola arrived, virus has added even more complications to health care More

Malaysia Flight 370 Disappearance Ruled Accident

Aircraft disappeared on March 8, 2014; with ruling, families of 239 passengers and crew can now seek compensation from airline 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.
Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Productioni
X
George Putic
January 29, 2015 9:43 PM
The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Production

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Crowded Republican Presidential Field Off to Early Start for 2016

It seems early, but the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign is already heating up. Though no one has officially announced a candidacy, several potential Republican contenders have been busy speaking to conservative groups about making a White House run next year. Many of the possible contenders are critical of the Obama administration’s foreign policy record. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid