Guardian Editor Questioned Over Snowden Leaks By House of Commons
On Tuesday, Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger appeared at the UK's House of Commons in front of Metropolitan Police officers. The topic of interrogation, ahem, questioning: the Guardian's decision to publish documents by the National Security Agency. This particular hearing was labeled as a "counter-terrorism evidence session."
Ever since Glenn Greenwald published those NSA documents that Edward Snowden leaked, governments have been in a pretty constant state of uproar over the information the newspaper has revealed. In fact, just three months ago, the British government even detained Greenwald's partner, David Miranda, at London Heathrow Airport. By then, the Guardian was already having an ugly back-and-forth with the government, claiming it destroyed Snowden files.
Now, anti-terror police may actually press criminal charges against journalists at the Guardian for putting sensitive information at risk. Yesterday, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press spoke out in support of the Guardian in an open letter to the House of Commons:
To the rest of the world, it appears that press freedom itself is under attack in Britain today. British politicians are publicly calling for the criminal prosecution of The Guardian for having published true, accurate, and newsworthy information...These aggressive actions intimidate journalists and their sources. They chill reporting on issues of national security and on the conduct of government more generally.
In spite of that lingering threat, however, Rusbridger appeared before the MPs and answered all questions in a calm, collected manner.
Here are a few of the great takeaway lines from Rusbridger's questioning:
1. "We have published I think 26 documents so far out of the 58,000 we've seen."
That amounts to a mere one percent. Which amounts to many, many more stories to come.
2. "The Guardian would not be put off by intimidation, but nor are we going to behave recklessly."
We will not be put off. Gotta love a Brit taking a stand.
3. When asked, "Do you love your country?" His reply was:
"I’m slightly surprised to be asked the question, but yes, we are patriots and one of the things we are patriotic about is the nature of the democracy, and the nature of a free press, and the fact that one can, in this country, discuss and report these things."
4. When asked if he would have informed the Nazis about intelligence the Enigma Machine collected, Rusbridger politely burned:
"That is a well-worn red herring, if you don’t mind me saying so, Mr. Ellis."
5. And in defense of journalism:
"There is no doubt in my mind ... that newspapers have done something that oversight has failed to do."
See what some journalists and supporters have to say about today's questioning:
You can read the entire summary of the questioning here.