Alan Rusbridger, editor of the Guardian UK, says that the paper has been ordered to surrender or destroy all files related to Edward Snowden’s secret surveillance documents, or their hard drives will be dismantled. The directive came from a “very senior government official.” Did David Cameron, the Prime Minister of England, personally order the Guardian’s destruction?
Monday, authorities from Britain’s government raided the Guardian’s London headquarters, looking for any material related to whistleblower Edward Snowden.
It was then that Rusbridger was told by intelligence officials from the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) that they either turn over the information, or the paper’s hard drives would be destroyed.
Rusbridger told the BBC that after admitting that there were other copies of Snowden’s information elsewhere, they handed over the documents. He further revealed that the entire matter was handled by senior Whitehall officials who answer ‘directly to Number 10 Downing Street.’
Rusbridger said that the documents received from Snowden revealed “concerns about the powers of the state” and were important public issues.
“Even President Obama has recognized this. It is a subject of ‘high public importance’. You cannot write about that if you do not have the facts,” he said.
He said the government has threatened to go to the court system to restrain the Guardian from publishing any more material related to the nation’s security programs.
“I think that the British government has moved in such a way against the Guardian that would be undoable in the US.”
Rusbridger said the matter began about two months ago when he was contacted by a senior government “claiming to represent the views of the prime minister,” he wrote in an op-ed for the Guardian on Monday.
He said the negotiations were amenable until about a month ago. The government’s verbiage became more hostile. Rusbridger said he received a phone call ‘from the “center of government” saying, “You’ve had your fun. Now we want the stuff back.”
Rusbridger capitulated after informing these senior officials that it was not necessary for the Guardian to publish the Snowden material from its London headquarters.
“And so one of the more bizarre moments in the Guardian’s long history occurred – with two GCHQ security experts overseeing the destruction of hard drives in the Guardian’s basement just to make sure there was nothing in the mangled bits of metal which could possibly be of any interest to passing Chinese agents. ‘We can call off the black helicopters,’ joked one as we swept up the remains of a MacBook Pro,” he wrote.
This follows action by the UK which detained Guardian reporter David Miranda Sunday as he was passing through Heathrow Airport, on his way to Rio de Janeiro. He is a Brazilian citizen. Security agents detained him for nine hours, and confiscated his laptop, mobile phone and flash drives. He was not charged, and eventually released.
He was detained under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000, which ‘grants police the power to stop and question people traveling through British ports and airports to determine whether they are involved in planning terrorist plots.’
Glenn Greenwald, Miranda’s partner, and the man to whom Snowden has reportedly given 20,000 documents, plans legal action, and has promised retaliation by disclosing more information.
Although the Prime Minister and President Obama said they were aware of Miranda’s detention, they claim to have had no involvement in the process.
The evidence points to direct involvement by David Cameron in the threatened destruction of the Guardian’s office in London.