Guardian says UK made it destroy Snowden material
By Estelle Shirbon and Michael Holden ,ReutersLONDON -- The 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.
August 21, 2013, 12:01 am TWN
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) had 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.