Read

Search form

Guardian News Staff May Face Terrorism Charges Over Snowden Leaks

Guardian News Staff May Face Terrorism Charges Over Snowden Leaks
This article originally appeared on Reuters

British police are examining whether Guardian newspaper staff should be investigated for terrorism offenses over their handling of data leaked by Edward Snowden, Britain's senior counter-terrorism officer said on Tuesday.

The disclosure came after Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger, summoned to give evidence at a parliamentary inquiry, was accused by lawmakers of helping terrorists by making top secret information public and sharing it with other news organizations.

The Guardian was among several newspapers which published leaks from U.S. spy agency contractor Snowden about mass surveillance by the National Security Agency (NSA) and Britain's eavesdropping agency GCHQ.

Assistant Commissioner Cressida Dick, who heads London's Specialist Operations unit, told lawmakers the police were looking to see whether any offenses had been committed, following the brief detention in August of a man carrying data on behalf of a Guardian journalist.

Security officials have said Snowden's data included details of British spies and its disclosure would put lives at risk. Rusbridger told the committee his paper had withheld that information from publication.

"It appears possible once we look at the material that some people may have committed offenses," Dick said. "We need to establish whether they have or they haven't."

David Miranda, the partner of journalist Glenn Greenwald who brought the Snowden leaks to world attention, was questioned under anti-terrorism law when he landed at London's Heathrow Airport en route from Berlin to Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, and computer material he was carrying was seized.

Lawmakers put it to Rusbridger that he had committed an offense under Section 58A of the Terrorism Act which says it is a crime to publish or communicate any information about members of the armed forces or intelligence services.

"It isn't only about what you've published, it's about what you've communicated. That is what amounts, or can amount, to a criminal offense," said committee member Michael Ellis.

Asked later by Ellis whether detectives were considering Section 58A offenses, Dick said: "Yes, indeed we are looking at that."

Earlier on Tuesday, the Guardian published a letter of support from Carl Bernstein, the U.S. journalist who helped expose the Watergate scandal in the 1970s.

Bernstein, 69, said Rusbridger's appearance before the committee was a "dangerously pernicious" attempt by British authorities to shift the focus of the surveillance debate from excessive government secrecy to the conduct of the press.

Stored Securely

During his testimony, Rusbridger defended his decision to publish the leaks and said the paper had used less than one percent of the information and kept the rest stored securely.

"We have published I think 26 documents so far out of the 58,000 we've seen, or 58,000 plus. So we have made very selective judgements about what to print," he said. "We have published no names and we have lost control of no names."

Guardian articles over the last six months have shown that the United States and some of its allies, including Britain, were monitoring phone, email and social media communications on a previously unimagined scale.

The revelations provoked diplomatic rows and stirred an international debate on civil liberties. Britain's security chiefs said the leaks were a boon to the country's enemies who were "rubbing their hands with glee".

Snowden, who is believed to have downloaded between 50,000 and 200,000 classified NSA and British government documents, is living in Russia under temporary asylum. He has been charged in the United States under the Espionage Act.

Countering criticism by lawmakers, Rusbridger said more emphasis was being given to the Guardian's decision to publish the leaks than to the fact they had been so easily obtained in the first place.

"We were told that 850,000 people ... had access to the information that a 29-year-old in Hawaii who wasn't even employed by the American government had access," he said.

Originally published by Reuters

Add new comment

Sign Up

Article Tabs

gun violence, gun lobby, mass killings, National Rifle Association

Powerful almost by default, and handled with a clear mission at hand and an eye for empathy, "91%" is a call to activist arms.

Oaxaca teacher strikes, Educational Reform, National Coordinator of Education Workers, National Union of Education Workers, Enrique Peña Nieto, student deaths, student disappearances, Nochixtlán blockade, Nochixtlán violence, Popular Assembly of the Peopl

Teachers in southern Mexico are back on the barricades, and once again the state has responded with brute force.

tax avoidance, corporate tax evasion, corporate taxes, job creation

While candidates bicker and Congress stagnates and the rest of us dwell on the latest shooting tragedy, the super-rich enjoy the absence of attention paid to one of our nation’s most destructive issues: tax avoidance.

Abby Martin, Monsanto, World Health Organization, carcinogens

Few corporations in the world are as loathed – and as sinister – as Monsanto, but the threat posed to people and planet could be reaching new heights.

Brexit, Jo Cox, E.U. referendum, Britain Stronger in Europe, Electoral Reform Society, Left Leave, rightwing movements, U.K. xenophobia

Many are calling the U.K.’s European Union referendum vote on Thursday, the most important vote in every British person’s lifetime.

Abby Martin, Monsanto, World Health Organization, carcinogens

Few corporations in the world are as loathed – and as sinister – as Monsanto, but the threat posed to people and planet could be reaching new heights.

Posted 2 days 3 hours ago
Jo Cox, white supremacy, racism, anti-immigrant, Brexit, Tommy Mair, political killings, E.U. referendum

The murder of Jo Cox has shocked British society, sparking renewed discussions about how to deal with racism, hatred, xenophobia and white supremacy just days before the Brexit vote.

Posted 4 days 3 hours ago
Brexit, Jo Cox, E.U. referendum, Britain Stronger in Europe, Electoral Reform Society, Left Leave, rightwing movements, U.K. xenophobia

Many are calling the U.K.’s European Union referendum vote on Thursday, the most important vote in every British person’s lifetime.

Posted 3 days 1 hour ago
Hawaii GMOs, anti-GMO movement, genetically engineered crops, Syngenta, Monsanto, Earthjustice

Most people know Hawaii for its beautiful beaches, world-class surfing and delicious Kona coffee, but the islands are also ground zero for GE crops – and last week various counties were in court to defend themselves against them.

Posted 4 days 3 hours ago
Bernie Sanders, political revolution, National Nurses Union, racial inequality, economic inequality, Hillary Clinton, Democratic Party, Democratic Socialists of America, Kshama Sawant, Socialist Alternative, People and Planet First Budget

Last weekend's People's Summit concentrated on domestic policy and economic inequality, featuring spirited debates, discussions and workshops that tried to chart the path ahead for America's new left.

Posted 4 days 3 hours ago
crude by rail, Citizens Acting for Rail Safety, crude rail explosions, BNSF, rain transit, rail revolution

We used to own our farms. We used to ride the rails. We used to have localized economies.

Jo Cox, white supremacy, racism, anti-immigrant, Brexit, Tommy Mair, political killings, E.U. referendum

The murder of Jo Cox has shocked British society, sparking renewed discussions about how to deal with racism, hatred, xenophobia and white supremacy just days before the Brexit vote.

climate change, art,

Climate change is such a big problem, we need artists to mobilize on a huge scale to render it comprehensible.

gun violence, gun lobby, mass killings, National Rifle Association

Powerful almost by default, and handled with a clear mission at hand and an eye for empathy, "91%" is a call to activist arms.

Bernie Sanders, political revolution, National Nurses Union, racial inequality, economic inequality, Hillary Clinton, Democratic Party, Democratic Socialists of America, Kshama Sawant, Socialist Alternative, People and Planet First Budget

Last weekend's People's Summit concentrated on domestic policy and economic inequality, featuring spirited debates, discussions and workshops that tried to chart the path ahead for America's new left.