Guardian Faces Action over NSA Documents

Luke Luby takes a look at American whistleblower Edward Snowden’s exposure of the systematic wrongdoing by Western intelligence agencies.

Journalists working for The Guardian newspaper could be facing criminal charges for their part in publishing documents leaked by former NSA agent Edward Snowden, according to a senior British counter terrorism officer.

Cressida Dick, an assistant commissioner at Scotland Yard, has confirmed that her officers are looking into potential breaches of a specific anti-terrorism law which makes it unlawful to publish information relating to British intelligence agents. The journalists, if charged and found convicted, could face a ten year sentence.

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When asked if he “loved his country”, Rusbridger answered positively and claimed that his journalists were “patriots” in publishing the documents.


Details of the inquiry show that The Guardian’s editor, Alan Rusbrigder, has confirmed he has sent un-redacted copies of many of the 58,000 leaked documents to news organisations abroad. He also stated that only one per cent of the documents leaked by Snowden have so far been published by the newspaper and defended the paper’s reputation by claiming that it is not a “rogue newspaper”, claiming that other newspapers have also published many of the documents.

Rusbrigder told a Commons’ home affairs select committee that “in stuff that was transmitted we did some cleaning up but we did not clean up every one of the 58,000 documents”.

When asked if he “loved his country”, he answered positively and claimed that his journalists were “patriots” in publishing the documents. Whilst also at the Commons’ home affairs select committee, Dick also noted: “It appears possible, once we look at the material, that some people may have committed offences. We need to establish whether they have or haven’t. That involves a huge amount of scoping of material”.

When asked by Michael Ellis MP if her team was investigating possible offences under a section of the Terrorism Act 2000 which makes it illegal to “elicit, publish or communicate” information about members of the intelligence services, Miss Dick said: “Yes, indeed, we are looking at that as a potential”.

The files that Snowden leaked contained names and other personal details about British intelligence operatives, including information about the country’s spying techniques and capabilities. It is on this basis that security service chiefs have expressed concern that lives would be put at risk if the information fell into the wrong hands, and warned that terrorists and criminals are learning how to avoid detection thanks to articles which The Guardian has published based on Mr Snowden’s disclosures.

Earlier last year Andrew Parker, the MI5 director general, warned in a speech that revealing details about the work of GCHQ, the government listening post, was a “gift to terrorists. Last November, Sir John Sawers, the MI6 chief, said terrorists were “rubbing their hands with glee” at the Snowden disclosures. He said: “What I can tell you is that the leaks from Snowden have been very damaging, they have put our operations at risk. Al-Qaeda is lapping it up”.

So far no charges have been brought against any of The Guardian’s employees.