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Iran Press TV

Fresh details emerge of British paperís encounter with spies

Iran Press TV

Wed Aug 21, 2013 3:14PM GMT

Fresh details of a confrontation between a British daily and the UK’s spying apparatus have emerged expounding on the decision to annihilate hard drives that contained secret data leaked by CIA’s former contractor Edward Snowden, local media reported.

The Guardian said the decision was made in order to protect Snowden from possible potential prosecution and also in a bid to keep reporting on material he leaked.

The paper said in a report that senior staffers used angle grinders and drills to destroy the electronics in mid-July in an attempt to avoid legal action or even a police raid that could end reporting on the issue of provide evidence for U.S. authorities to imprison Snowden.

"I didn't want to get in that position," said editor Alan Rusbridger in a video interview posted to the Guardian's website.

"Once it was obvious that they would be going to law, I would rather destroy the copy than hand it back to them or allow the courts to freeze our reporting", he added, noting that other copies of the same material exist elsewhere and ready to be used by the paper.

Rusbridger’s comments came as the UK government endorsed the police’s decision to arrest a journalist’s partner at Heathrow Airport allegedly linked with U.S. intelligence leaker Snowden.

Landed in London on his way from Germany to Brazil, David Miranda, partner of Guardian journalist Glen Greenwald, was captured at the airport and investigated for nine hours by Scotland Yard authorities under the so-called Terrorism Act.

Miranda had been questioned about his "entire life" by six agents who took his "computer, video game, mobile phone, my memory card - everything", while being held under “Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000”.

Greenwald - the reporter who interviewed American whistleblower Edward Snowden - called his partner's detention a "profound attack on press freedoms and the news-gathering process".

"To detain my partner for a full nine hours while denying him a lawyer, and then seize large amounts of his possessions, is clearly intended to send a message of intimidation to those of us who have been reporting on the NSA (US National Security Agency) and GCHQ," he said.

Peace campaigners and activists warned police against misusing the Terrorism Act 2000, noting that the legislation was being deployed to intimidate journalists.

The legality of Miranda’s detention was also questioned by legal commentators. At the same time, civil liberties groups denounced his arrest as an abuse of power aimed at sabotaging Greenwald's coverage.

British legal blogger David Allen Green said “Schedule 7” is only used in a situation to determine whether or not a person was a terrorist - and not "a fishing expedition for property."

"If the questioning, detention, and search of Miranda was for a purpose other than to determine if he was a terrorist, then it was unlawful," he said.


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