Guardian News Staff May Face Terrorism Charges Over Snowden Leaks

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

Article Tabs

One of the slogans of the Occupy movement was "capitalism isn't working." Now, in an epic, groundbreaking new book, French economist Thomas Piketty explains why the movement was right.

As credit card companies try and spur consumer spending in the United States with introductory perks and cash rewards, they have raised interest rates on other customers to a remarkable 21 percent.

Inmates will refuse work, calling for education, rehabilitation and an end to overcrowding, life sentences without parole – and “the free labor system.”

Oil spills are the reality of transporting oil – and in the Pacific Northwest, where workers from the fishing to tourism industries depend on oil-free waterways, the threat is all the more grave.

The rage and nihilism that come from the frustrations of American life are expressed through violence.

Revolts are shaking the world, bursting in the most unexpected places, but they rarely take power. Is the big explosion still coming?

Posted 5 days 15 hours ago

The Vermont Senate passed a bill to require labeling on all GMO foods sold in the state – signaling a wave of nationwide victories against the Gene Giants may be underway.

Posted 5 days 15 hours ago

Life in tent encampments, vehicles, motels, and storage units - REAL CHANGE focuses on four men who sell Real Change News, a street newspaper in Seattle. Follow ROBERT, GEORGE, DANIEL, and BUDDY as they navigate the less visible side of homelessness in America. Despite their struggles, they persevere. Each sells newspapers to get by.

Posted 6 days 15 hours ago

From climate change to Crimea, the natural gas industry is supreme at exploiting crisis for private gain.

Posted 5 days 15 hours ago

A new Cold War has arisen between Russia and the U.S. over the future of Ukraine.

Posted 2 days 16 hours ago

While Ethiopia continues to move forward on the huge Renaissance Dam, Egypt is fighting back with legislation of its own to guarantee that its water share, arranged in colonial-era treaties, is not usurped by the construction project.

Activists spearheaded an initiative called the Eviction Free Zone for neighborhoods in Minneapolis, where activists hunker down in foreclosed properties, warding off attempts by police and banks to change the locks.

India has officially won the war against polio, marking the finest example of what strong political will combined with a citizenry determined to protect its children can achieve.

The Anglo-Dutch oil giant announced a sweeping strategic overhaul that suspends its Alaskan drilling program, and admits it jumped "too quickly" into fracking exploration in the U.S.

From Jean-Claude Trichet and Mario Draghi to Jaime Caruana and Kenneth Rogoff, proponents of austerity politics run in some of the world's elite circles where they have pushed illogical and unsuccessful economics to its inevitable conclusion.

Sign Up