Last month the British newspaper the Guardian revealed that Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron forced the the newspaper to destroy its hard drives with the leaked classified NSA documents given to then by Edward Snowden. In Great Britain, there are no freedom of the press laws.
With the British government threatening legal action, Alan Rushbridger, the editor of the Guardian, agreed to destroy the hard drives.
“I would rather destroy the copied files than hand them back to the NSA and GCHQ’”, said Rushbridger.
When Rushbridger said “copied files” he was referring to the same files that he had which are also in the hands of The New York Times and ProPublica. The news outlets agreed to share the documents leaked by Edward Snowden. Both publications are located in New York, where there is freedom of the press.
In response to the actions taken by the British government last month, the World Association of Newspapers, News Publishers, and the World Editors Forum (WAN-IFRA), which represents 18,000 publications, 15,000 websites and more than 3,000 companies in more than 120 countries, wrote a letter to Prime Minister David Cameron regarding his threat of “legal actions” against the Guardian newspaper if they did not destroy the hard drives.
“The decision to destroy the equipment was made by Guardian staff in response to the threat of legal action by the UK government. In attempting to exercise prior-restraint, the government’s aim was to prevent the publication of reports based on the leaked files supplied by National Security Agency (NSA) contractor and whistle-blower, Edward Snowden.”
“That your government felt the need to threaten legal action in order to block reporting into issues of public interest is deeply regrettable. Furthermore, WAN-IFRA is extremely concerned that the government’s actions were an act of intimidation that could have a chilling effect on press freedom in the UK and beyond.”
WAN-IFRA was also disturbed with Britain’s decision to detain David Miranda, the partner of Guardian reporter Glenn Greenwald. Miranda was detained while traveling through London's Heathrow Airport under Schedule 7 of the UK's Terrorism Act of 2000.
"The apparent misuse of this particular element of anti-terror legislation places journalists, and those aiding journalistic work, under suspicion of being terrorists or having involvement in terrorist activities. This is an outrageous and deeply disturbing connection to make, and we seek assurances from you and your government that the necessary inquiries will be made to ensure any inference of association between journalism and terrorism is not part of official policy and is publicly condemned as categorically misleading."
The New York Times and the Guardian revealed over this past weekend that they are currently planning to release more of the NSA files they received from Edward Snowden.
Edward Snowden had said that he was reluctant at first to share the leaked documents with the New York Times fearing that they would succumb to pressure by the U.S. Government. Little did he know that in Britain, there is no freedom of the press.
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