The Guardian Claims British Government Destroyed Snowden Files

To the surprise of no one but the British government, pissing off the Guardian has not ended well.

The freshly incensed newspaper claimed in an editorial Monday that government officials have gone into the London basement of Guardian HQ and painstakingly destroyed hard drives full of data leaked by Edward Snowden. The paper is furiously reacting to the nine-hour "antiterrorism hold" thrust upon the partner of Glenn Greenwald, David Miranda, at Heathrow Airport Saturday.

Wrote the paper's editor, with more than a touch of movie-villain imagery:

The mood toughened just over a month ago, when I received a phone call from the center of government telling me: "You've had your fun. Now we want the stuff back." There followed further meetings with shadowy Whitehall figures. The demand was the same: hand the Snowden material back or destroy it. I explained that we could not research and report on this subject if we complied with this request. The man from Whitehall looked mystified. "You've had your debate. There's no need to write any more."

The White House has admitted that it received a "heads-up" that Greenwald's long-term partner, who aided the Guardian journalist in his "whistleblowing" antics, was going to be held by border patrollers under anti-terrorism laws. The Guardian has gained itself a fearsome reputation for truth-telling (uh, let's just forget that whole phone-hacking thing) and if its allegations are true, they are damning.

The editorial wondered aloud whether, since all kinds of electronic communication can now be intercepted, journalism might devolve back to the humble pen and paper. Though the paper didn't specify what leaks were destroyed, it insisted that it would retain its emphasis on hotly investigating intelligence agencies. "We just won't do it in London."

Greenwald himself, who came to Heathrow to collect his detained partner, has sworn to lash out at the authorities behind Miranda's nine-hour hold (who took half of his possessions to boot.) "I will be far more aggressive in my reporting from now," he told press after Airportgate. "I am going to publish many more documents. I am going to publish things on England too. I have many documents on England's spy system. I think they will be sorry for what they did."