On Aug. 19, the Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger revealed that the newspaper had been threatened by the British government for publishing classified information revealed by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.
Rusbridger said that the threats began two months ago when a senior official of the British government demanded the return or destruction of all the material in possession of the Guardian that was revealed by Snowden. The threats escalated last month, when Rusbridger received a call from a government official saying, "You've had your fun. Now we want the stuff back." When Rusbridger responded that writers at the Guardian could not research and report on the subject if they complied with the request to return or destroy the leaked documents, the government agent responded, "You've had your debate. There's no need to write any more."
Rusbridger then alleges that the British government intended to use legal action against the Guardian if the information was not returned or destroyed. Eventually, GCHQ agents entered the premises of the Guardian's office building and destroyed hard drives in the basement which contained copies of information leaked by Snowden. Rusbridger described this act as "a peculiarly pointless piece of symbolism that understood nothing about the digital age," because other copies of the information are available elsewhere. As such, Rusbridger claims that the Guardian "will continue to do patient, painstaking reporting on the Snowden documents, we just won't do it in London."
The story of the trespassing and destruction of property committed by agents of the British government follows news of the detention of David Miranda, the partner of Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, who has done the reporting on the Snowden leaks. Rusbridger added, "The seizure of Miranda's laptop, phones, hard drives and camera will similarly have no effect on Greenwald's work."