Her Majesty’s Government Forced ‘Guardian’ To Destroy Files on NSA-GCHQ, Editor Says

20 Aug. (EIRNS)–Her Majesty’s government appears to be
very sensitive about the exposure of its wiretapping of the
entire world. Alan Rusbridger, editor of the {Guardian}, wrote in
today’s issue that he was contacted by “a very senior government
official claiming to represent the views of the prime minister,”
which led to two meetings in which the official “demanded the
return or destruction of all the material we were working on.”
This was in the midst of the {Guardian}’s publishing revelations
about mass-surveillance programs against individuals and citizens
carried out by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) and
Britain’s General Communications HQ (GCHQ), as part of the
{Guardian}’s cooperation with NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.
Rusbridger claimed that he was told, “‘You’ve had your fun.
Now we want the stuff back.’ There followed further meetings with
shadowy Whitehall figures.” He continued, “The demand was the
same: ‘hand the Snowden material back or destroy it… You’ve had
your debate. There’s no need to write any more.'” The editor said
the government threatened to use the courts to obtain the leaked
documents if the paper did not destroy them themselves.
Rubsbridger tried to explain to these “shadowy figures” that
columnist Glenn Greenwald is actually based in Brazil and also
has all the material HM Shadowy Figures want the {Guardian} to
destroy. But the shadows were apparently unmoved.
“And so one of the more bizarre moments in the {Guardian}’s
long history occurred,” he added. “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.” Rusbridger also attacked holding David Miranda
at Heathrow Airport, along with his laptop, cellphone, hard
drives, and camera, and warned “it may not be long before it will
be impossible for journalists to have confidential sources,”
asking, “I wonder how many have truly understood the absolute
threat to journalism implicit in the idea of total surveillance,
when or if it comes  — and, increasingly, it looks like ‘when.'”
Numerous voices are already being raised in protest about
the over-the-top incident. A top British law firm, Bindmans, has
taken up Miranda’s case and has wwriten a letter to Terrisa May,
the head of the Police commission and Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe.
They warn that they are seeking the immediate return of David
Miranda’s laptop and all other electronic equipment within seven
days, and that there should be “no inspection, copying,
disclosure, transfer, distribution or interference, in any way,
with our client’s data,” nor should it be disclosed to third
parties.
Likewise, the Brazilian government expressed its “grave
concern” over the detainment of Brazilian citizen Miranda, saying
it was “without justification since it involves an individual
against whom there are no charges that can legitimate the use of
that legislation.” Amnesty International also weighed in, calling
it “unlawful and unwarranted.”

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