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UK Officials Destroy Guardian Hard Drives
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UK Officials Destroy Guardian Hard Drives - 08-19-2013, 11:52 PM

UK officials destroy Guardian hard drives in misguided effort to stop Snowden stories | The Verge

Officials from the British intelligence agency GCHQ raided The Guardian's offices to destroy hard drives related to the newspaper's stories about National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden — despite the fact that the information had already been disseminated to other sites around the world. In a chilling post today, Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger said the British government has put increasing pressure on editors to surrender all of the information that Snowden provided to the newspaper and its chief reporter on the stories, Glenn Greenwald. Prior to the destruction, an official reportedly told the paper, "You've had your fun. Now we want the stuff back." News of the raid comes a day after Greenwald's partner was detained for nine hours and questioned under terrorism statutes at Heathrow Airport.

Rusbridger said he explained to the unnamed government officials that there were other copies of the information they sought to destroy outside of England. But the officials insisted on destroying the drives anyway. Rusbridger said The Guardian would not be dissuaded from continuing to report the Snowden stories, but cautioned that intimidation tactics from government officials in Britain and the United States were making work increasingly difficult for journalists. "We are not there yet, but it may not be long before it will be impossible for journalists to have confidential sources," Rusbridger wrote. "Most reporting — indeed, most human life in 2013 — leaves too much of a digital fingerprint."

Writing in response to yesterday's detainment of David Miranda, Alan Rusbridger, the editor of the Guardian, revealed that UK security officials had destroyed hard drives at The Guardian's office at some point in the past month.

The Guardian, which employs Glenn Greenwald and has been a major publisher of leaks from both Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden, had repeatedly been told by British intelligence officers to destroy the hard drives that held any leaks from Snowden.

Rusbridger said he received several warnings from UK intelligence, before they finally became fed up:

The mood toughened just over a month ago, when I received a phone call from the centre 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."
And so one of the more bizarre moments in the Guardian's long history occurred – with two GCHQ security experts overseeing the destruction of hard drives in the Guardian's basement just to make sure there was nothing in the mangled bits of metal which could possibly be of any interest to passing Chinese agents. "We can call off the black helicopters," joked one as we swept up the remains of a MacBook Pro.

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