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​UK threatened to shut down Guardian for printing Snowden leaks

Published time: March 27, 2014 07:17
Edited time: June 27, 2014 08:32
A picture shows the offices of the Guardian newspaper in central London (AFP Photo / Andrew Cowie)

A picture shows the offices of the Guardian newspaper in central London (AFP Photo / Andrew Cowie)

British secret services threatened to shut down the Guardian newspaper as it was publishing its exposé of US massive surveillance based on Edward Snowden leaks. The story was the most difficult piece of reporting the paper has ever done.

“We were threatened that we would be closed down. We were accused of endangering national security and people’s lives. It left us in a very difficult position,” Guardian deputy editor Paul Johnson told the Radiodays Europe conference in Dublin.

A senior civil servant had told the paper’s editor, Alan Rusbridger, that the “prime minister, the deputy prime minister, the foreign secretary, the home secretary and the attorney general have got a problem with you,” Johnson said, as cited by the Irish Times.

The attitude of the British authorities was a sharp contrast to that of the Americans, he said. In the US Snowden leaks led to a nationwide debate on surveillance and privacy while in the UK the authorities just assumed that national security trumps press freedom.

The story, which exposed the scale of electronic surveillance by US National Security Agency and its intelligence allies throughout the world, was probably the most challenging to run in Guardian’s history, the deputy editor told the audience. It was more difficult than reporting on leaked US documents exposed by the whistleblower site WikiLeaks or the phone tapping by the News of the World tabloid.

“It was the most difficult story we have ever done and that includes WikiLeaks, because reporters and editors couldn’t speak to each other. We could only speak using encryption systems,” he said.

The paper had to install a secure room with new computers and a guard standing 24/7 at the door for the work on the story.

Edward Snowden, a former NSA contractor, leaked troves of classified files to leading media outlets exposing the scope of US surveillance programs and the fact that they targeted millions of common people, world leaders - including those of countries allied with America – and key businesses.

After getting stranded in a Moscow airport due to his passport being revoked by Washington, the whistleblower applied and received temporary political asylum in Russia.

While many officials branded Snowden a traitor, he also has numerous supporters who see him as a champion of human rights.

Comments (92)


Tom Zee 05.04.2014 23:19

When govt's suppress facts that concern our taxes, our safety, our relations with other countries and what they plan, our slumping education, the way we follow the USA dog, evermore collecting their dwindling bones. Then yes we have a serious problem with our elected men and some women, who have become black poisonous snakes hissing at our people and injecting poisonous tales about UN-national security!!!
the only threat to these UK Isles is the lies and horrendous greed of the 1%


Dancing Betta 31.03.2014 06:16

As long as people keep voting for the same people who only serve themselves and their kin (after all, this has been going on since Thatcher if not longer), they are going to do as they please, simply because you let them.
Stop voting for the same three big parties just because you and your family have always voted for them and see the men with the suitcases full of money scrambling to make new allegiances.
How has that parasite residing at Downing Street 10 not been taken down by an angry mob yet, after all he and his cronies have destroyed?
I guess it is true - every country gets the government it deserves.


Dancing Betta 31.03.2014 06:09

John Johnny 28.03.2014 00:46

So you are against God and Jesus? Adam and Eve?


In short, yes!

Provid ed this Jesus guy actually existed, he was the first person in ages trying to spread common sense, but his message to love and respect everyone and leave the judging to God got totally lost because the Church - a bunch of religious fanatics who have spent centuries systematically eradicating other cultures - had other plans.
They were also the plonkers telling people that all the allegories in the bible - including the one of Adam and Eve - are supposed to be taken literally.

View all comments (92)
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