Edited time: December 04, 2013 06:17
British police have launched an investigation into whether the Guardian committed “potential” terrorism offenses by publishing the incriminating NSA and GCHQ documents leaked earlier this year by Edward Snowden.
Alan Rusbridger, editor of the British paper, was testifying in front of a British parliamentary committee Tuesday when lawmakers suggested that the Guardian had helped terrorists by revealing the clandestine activity conducted by the American and British intelligence agencies.
Scotland Yard assistant commissioner Cressida Dick told the MPs Tuesday that is appears “possible that some people may have committed offenses” in connection with the material seized from David Miranda’s laptop earlier this year. Miranda, journalist Glenn Greenwald’s partner, was detained for hours at London’s Heathrow Airport and authorities confiscated his computer, cell phone, and other devices, some of which allegedly held material related to Snowden’s disclosures.
UK officials claim that Snowden’s trove of data included information about British spies and that the information’s publication puts lives in direct danger. Rusbridger said his paper would not publish any such information and that Guardian editors have not even looked at some of the information Snowden provided regarding the Iraq war.
Lawmakers also threatened Rusbridger by implying Guardian staff had violated Section 58A of the Terrorism Act, which stipulates that it is against the law to publish or even transmit any information regarding members of the armed forces or intelligence employees.
“It isn’t only about what you’ve published, it’s about what you’ve communicated,” committee member Michael Ellis said. “That is what amounts, or can amount, to a criminal offense.”
Ellis later asked assistant commissioner Dick if investigators were also looking into possible infractions under Section 58A.
Guardian: We Have Published 1 Pct of Snowden Leak
The editor of the Guardian said Tuesday his newspaper has published just 1 percent of the material it received from former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, and denied the paper had placed lives or national security at risk.
Under questioning by lawmakers on Parliament’s home affairs committee, Alan Rusbridger accused British authorities of trying to intimidate the newspaper, and warned of “national security being used as a trump card” to stifle debate.
The Guardian helped spark a global debate on privacy and security by publishing a series of stories based on leaks from Snowden disclosing the scale of telephone and Internet surveillance by spy agencies in the U.S. and Britain.
Rusbridger said the leak amounted to about 58,000 files, and the newspaper had published “about 1 percent” of the total.
“I would not expect us to be publishing a huge amount more,” he said.
Government and intelligence officials have reacted angrily to the leaks, saying they compromised British security and aided terrorists. Britain’s top three spy chiefs said last month that al-Qaida and other terror groups were “rubbing their hands in glee” in the wake of Snowden’s leaks.
Several Conservative lawmakers have said the left-leaning Guardian should be prosecuted for breaching terrorism laws.
Rusbridger defended the newspaper’s decision to publish the secret material. He said stories published by the Guardian, The Washington Post and others had prompted much-needed debate about the scale of intelligence activities and exposed the limits of regulatory laws drawn up in the pre-Internet era.
“There is no doubt in my mind … that newspapers have done something that oversight has failed to do,” he said.