News / Europe

Guardian Says Britain Made it Destroy Snowden Material

Guardian newspaper front page, Aug. 20, 2013
Guardian newspaper front page, Aug. 20, 2013
Reuters
British authorities forced the Guardian newspaper to destroy material leaked by Edward Snowden, its editor has revealed, calling it a “pointless” move that would not prevent further reporting on U.S. and British surveillance programs.
 
In a column on Tuesday, Alan Rusbridger said he had received a call from a government official a month ago who told him: “You've had your fun. Now we want the stuff back.” The paper had been threatened with legal action if it did not comply.
 
Later, two “security experts” from the secretive Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ)  visited the paper's London offices and watched as computer hard drives containing Snowden material were reduced to mangled bits of metal.
 
Rusbridger said the “bizarre” episode and the detention at London's Heathrow airport on Sunday of the partner of Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald showed press freedom was under threat in Britain.
 
The nine-hour detention under an anti-terrorism law of David Miranda, Greenwald's Brazilian partner, has caused a furor with Brazil, British opposition politicians, human rights lawyers and press freedom watchdogs among those denouncing it.
 
Greenwald was the first journalist to publish U.S. and British intelligence secrets leaked by Snowden, the former U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) contractor who is wanted in the United States and has found temporary asylum in Russia.
 
Under mounting pressure to explain itself, Britain's Home Office, or interior ministry, defended Miranda's detention.
 
“If the police believe that an individual is in possession of highly sensitive stolen information that would help terrorism, then they should act and the law provides them with a framework to do that,” it said in a statement.
 
London's Metropolitan Police said Miranda's detention had been “legally and procedurally sound”.
 
Miranda, who was in transit on his way from Berlin to Rio de Janeiro where he lives with Greenwald, was questioned for nine hours before being released without charge minus his laptop, mobile phone and memory sticks.
 
He had been ferrying materials obtained from Snowden between Greenwald and Laura Poitras, an independent film-maker based in Berlin who has also published reports based on Snowden material.
 
"Public interest"
 
“This law shouldn't be given to police officers. They use it to get access to documents or people that they cannot get the legal way through courts or judges. It's a total abuse of power,” Miranda told the Guardian after returning home.
 
The White House said on Monday Washington was given a “heads up” ahead of Miranda's detention but had not requested it.
 
Britain's opposition Labor party said on Tuesday that meant senior British ministers must have been involved.
 
Government ministers “need to explain who authorized the use of terrorism legislation in this case and what the justification was,” said lawmaker Yvette Cooper, the Labor spokeswoman on interior affairs.
 
Staff at the prime minister's office said they would not comment on the Guardian allegations because it was an “operational matter”. GCHQ also declined to comment.
 
Dunja Mijatovic, media freedoms chief at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, a 57-nation human rights and security watchdog, said she had written to the British authorities to express concerns about Miranda's detention.
 
“The detention can be interpreted as putting pressure on Glenn Greenwald after his recent reporting on security issues in the Guardian ... the whole situation sends a worrying message to any member of the media transiting through the UK,” she wrote.
 
Britain also came under attack from press freedom group Index on Censorship, which denounced the forced destruction of computers revealed by Rusbridger in his Tuesday column.
 
“Using the threat of legal action to force a newspaper into destroying material is a direct attack on press freedom in the UK,” the group's Chief Executive Kirsty Hughes said.
 
“It is clear that the Snowden and NSA story is strongly in the public interest ... It seems that the UK government is using, and quite literally misusing, laws to intimidate journalists and silence its critics.”
 
Rusbridger said the destruction of the computer material would not stop the Guardian from pursuing Snowden stories.
 
“It felt like a particularly pointless piece of symbolism that understood nothing about the digital age,” the Guardian editor said.
 
“We will continue to do patient, painstaking reporting on the Snowden documents. We just won't do it in London. The seizure of Miranda's laptop, phones, hard drives and camera will similarly have no effect on Greenwald's work.”

You May Like

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Christmas Gains Popularity in Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid