The Guardian newspaper reveals how the UK government has responded to its coverage of the Snowden leaks.
Earlier this year, Edward Snowden leaked information about mass surveillance programs to the media. One of the newspapers responsible for breaking the Snowden stories was The Guardian in the UK. Snowden first talked to The Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald in 2012 and Greenwald has covered the issue of mass surveillance extensively over the last few months. This past weekend, his partner David Miranda was detained in London’s Heathrow Airport under schedule 7 of the UK’s terror laws.
Miranda’s laptop, phones, hard drives and camera were seized and, in a piece published in The Guardian, Alan Rusbridger sheds some light on why: David Miranda apparently helps Greenwald in the production of his stories. Miranda’s nine-hour detention encouraged Rusbridger to share another story about the UK government and its attempts to prevent The Guardian from “informing the public about what the intelligence agencies, governments and corporations are up to.”
Rusbridger says he was contacted by a senior UK official a couple of months ago. This official demanded the Guardian either turn over or destroy all of the material it had. Though he explained that the information in question was not exclusive to staff in the UK (in fact, most of its NSA stories were coming from New York), the UK government was undeterred. And so, members of the British Intelligence agency GHCQ visited The Guardian’s offices and destroyed computers and hard drives relating to the Snowden saga.
“Whitehall was satisfied, but it felt like a peculiarly pointless piece of symbolism that understood nothing about the digital age,” writes Rusbridger. “We will continue to do patient, painstaking reporting on the Snowden documents, we just won’t do it in London.”