British Agents Supervised Destruction of Guardian’s Computers to Disrupt NSA Reporting

Thursday, August 22, 2013
Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger (AP Photo)

In an attempt to halt the British newspaper’s reporting on the National Security Agency (NSA), Britain’s intelligence agency demanded The Guardian destroy computer hard drives containing documents from whistleblower Edward Snowden.


The Guardian’s editor, Alan Rusbridger, said two agents of the GCHQ (Britain’s equivalent of the NSA) showed up at the newspaper’s office in London and oversaw the destruction of the hard drives. He added that the move was part of an ongoing attempt by the government to intimidate the newspaper into ceasing its reporting on NSA activities.


Rusbridger told the BBC News that “given that there were other copies and we could work out of America, which has better laws to protect journalists, I saw no reason not to destroy this material ourselves rather than hand it back to the government.”


He also said that there is little point in fighting the government in court.


“It seemed to me fruitless to go through that exercise of fighting that case, which would have meant that we could not write about the Snowden material when there were other copies. So it's simply a matter of transferring our reporting to America,” where the newspaper has an office in New York City.


In addition, Glenn Greenwald, The Guardian reporter who broke the Snowden story, lives and works out of Brazil.


Rusbridger said the government intimidation began shortly after Greenwald first broke the story about Snowden and the NSA’s spying on Americans. In a phone call with a British official, Rusbridger says he was told: “You've had your fun. Now we want the stuff back,” referring to the NSA information stolen by Snowden.


The newspaper’s editor also said the British government threatened to shut down The Guardian if it did not cooperate with officials.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Government Agents Went to the Guardian Offices and Oversaw Smashing of Hard Drives to Erase Snowden Files (by Alex Kane, AlterNet)

David Miranda, Schedule 7 and the Danger that All Reporters Now Face (by Alan Rusbridger, The Guardian)

British Newspaper Has Advantages in Battle With Government Over Secrets (by Steven Erlanger, New York Times)

Does NSA Avoid U.S. Legal Restrictions by Hiring British Intelligence to Gather Information on Americans? (by Matt Bewig, AllGov)

Army Blocks Soldiers’ Access to News Articles about NSA Spying Revelations (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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