Guardian Editor Claims U.K. Authorities Destroyed Newspaper’s Hard Drives

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On Aug. 18, David Miranda, the Brazilian partner of American journalist Glenn Greenwald, was stopped and held at Heathrow for nine hours, the legal maximum under the country’s antiterrorism law, before being released without charge. Though not a journalist, Miranda was on his way back to the home he shares with Greenwald, in Brazil, from Germany where he had been doing work for his partner. Greenwald is the Guardian journalist who broke the story of secret state surveillance programs in the U.S. based on information leaked by former NSA employee Edward Snowden. Miranda has stated that he had been in Berlin meeting with American filmmaker Laura Poitras, who has also been working with Greenwald on Snowden’s files.

According to Miranda, all of his electronic equipment had been confiscated by British police. “I stayed in a room, there were six different agents, entering and leaving, who spoke with me,” he told the Associated Press in Rio de Janeiro after returning from Heathrow. “They asked questions about my whole life, about everything. They took my computer, video game, cell phone, memory thumb drives, everything.”

The incident prompted a critical response from the Guardian’s editor in chief Alan Rusbridger — and brought out a new revelation. In an article posted on Aug. 19, Rusbridger described how the British government had recently attempted to persuade him to destroy the documents leaked by Snowden. When Rusbridger resisted, he says he was threatened with legal action before officials from the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) were sent to the Guardian’s London offices to destroy computers containing the documents themselves.

Rusbridger writes:

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.

While the British government has not yet responded to Rusbridger’s claim, many media commentators in both the U.K. and the U.S. are disturbed by the revelation. Paul Staines, a right-leaning British political commentator, wrote on his website on Aug. 20, “What this comes down to is that state security was in the Guardian’s basement destroying their hard drives. Which is a hugely worrying development.” Across the pond, Ryan Chittum at the Columbia Journalism Review wrote, “In light of Rusbridger’s disclosures, it’s even clearer that the detention of Miranda is part of an attack on American journalists authorized at the highest levels of the British government.”

Regarding Miranda’s ordeal at Heathrow, the British authorities have since stated that they were within their rights to detain Miranda under Schedule 7 of Britain’s Terrorism Act 2000, which allows authorities to detain and question people traveling through ports and airports to determine whether they are involved in planning terrorist attacks. The U.K. Home Office released a statement saying, “The government and the police have a duty to protect the public and our national security. If the police believe that an individual is in possession of highly sensitive stolen information that would help terrorism, then they should act and the law provides them with a framework to do that. Those who oppose this sort of action need to think about what they are condoning.”

Spokespeople for both the White House and Downing Street have said while they were made aware of Miranda’s detainment, neither was involved in the decision to do so.

Rusbridger says the Guardian, which has recently expanded its American operations, intends to pursue the Snowden story, however “we just won’t do it in London.” Miranda has stated he intends to legally challenge the U.K. Home Office over its confiscation of his electronics and Rusbridger has pledged the Guardian’s support.

49 comments
FrankBurns1
FrankBurns1

Since 9/11 our governments are going whole hog to usurp every police power possible. It's just what Bin Laden wanted. The American's even have a folktale about this, called Br'er Rabbit.

DallasMarcone
DallasMarcone

As much as it sucks... It's nice to know the UK's got our back.

arvay
arvay

Time for Snowden and WikiLeaks to release everything they have, names, operations every single bit and let the information have its effects globally. 

AnonoMouser
AnonoMouser

As an American, this incident concerns me greatly.  The Brits are getting almost as bad as the US TSA.  I say it's high time that everyone traveling through an US airport gets a thorough anal probing.  And children under 13 get two just for good measure.  We must win the terrorism war by not letting England terrorize travelers more than America does, you know, by comparison.

hkc123
hkc123

All air passengers should take ntoe that they can be detained for 9 hours at any Brtish airport without being able to seek any help if they have any friends, relatives or distant relatives whom the British authorities only need to "suspect".

Think twice about flying to or even transiting in any British airport.  

my-new-life-in-asia
my-new-life-in-asia

The US and UK governments have been doing their utmost to help worldwide ant western propaganda for a decade now.

Vitor Antonio de Lima
Vitor Antonio de Lima

All these people look so silly! Fight power is unglorious and danger. I tried to be the good boy as a teacher and got bad reception when I was young.

Vijay Banga
Vijay Banga

Is Guardian a newspaper or slave of the government,shameful

Mus Mus
Mus Mus

Good luck Eng. Unfortunately, the majority of the world is in no position to help. We're looking at a very similar scenario, just a little more slowly than you are.

Mus Mus
Mus Mus

"Claims"? Um... they are in pieces. What's this "Claims" you speak of?

RobertParent
RobertParent

Ya know.... with the “war on terror” now in, what , it's 11th years and we only thwarted 54 terrorist plots, I am not feeling real safe... thats less than 5 per year. We need to get this war in high gear so it can function as it was planned. I have some ideas:

Lets all vote en masse for the “Alexander/Clapper” ticket in 2016. A landslide vote would give them the mandate they need to get this going in the right direction. The first order of business after they are inaugurated would be the following:

  1. pass the “Patriot Act” as a constitutional amendment with explicit wording to allow it to supersede any other amendment, or the constitution itself, if needed (it goes without saying that it should be worded as vaguely as possible).

  2. Squash these “homegrown terrorist” that would snuff out your entire family in the blink of an eye by giving the ATF the ability to hire.... say, 1 million Democrats to go house-to-house and confiscate weapons.

  3. The confiscated weapons (especially the assault rifles) should be given to local police forces to arm them to the teeth,... just in case some homeowners dont keep their property in tip-top shape. (of course the donated weapons couldnt be used against innocent citizens, only “targets” as defined by the “Patriot Act Amendment”)

It makes me feel safer just thinking about it! We should be able to go from less than 5 thwarted terrorist plot per year to maybe over, say 2,776 in the first year alone.

A heads up.... I am going to pre-order my “Alexander/Clapper 2016” bumper stickers, posters, hats, T-shirts, etc. now because with so many Americans so afraid of terrorists the suppliers of these items wont be able to keep up with the demand in 2016.

mical
mical

How ironic is it that the guy whose rights were violated was named Miranda. Talk about your poster child. Speaking of that, did I use "irony" correctly?

PrinceCharming PrinceCharming
PrinceCharming PrinceCharming

with the world's governments thinking they can keep secrets from the general public, this story is plausibly credible

RamonRoman
RamonRoman

What do you expect? England is a democracy for fools, it is simply a monarchy where the stupid citizens are going crazy for the very special, extraordinary, out of this world, high class and future King, baby born while the puppets are trumpling on the freedom of the press. But, listen, all of this is secretly being done for the hypocrites, who don't want to do it themselves, because it goes against their perfect constitution.

Perhaps they should call it, "RENDITION OF THE LAW".

Cryptokritic
Cryptokritic

At least the government was protecting the Western world from Chinese Communism, while they're at it they should burn the Constitution and the Magna Carta for our own good, we don't want subversive ideas like freedom and individual rights to undermine our good society!

ShawnArscott
ShawnArscott

This is setting a dangerous precedent - government authority over freedom of the press. Fascism anyone?

poliphobic
poliphobic

"Spokespeople for both the White House and Downing Street have said that while they were made aware of Miranda’s detainment, neither were involved in the decision to do so."


 Of course, we all believe them, don't we?

Eglal El Gamal
Eglal El Gamal

Muslim Brotherhood the TRUTH shared a link. عــاجل فيديو للتاريخ رجاء النشر على اوسع نطاق واقتحام قسم الازبكيه بالالى والمولوتوف والخرطوش من قبل www.youtube.com اشتـــــركـ ليصلك كــل جديد من الحصريات اول بأول http://www.youtube.com/user/EgyTube07 عــاجل فيديو للتاريخ رجاء النشر على اوسع نطاق واقتحام قسم الازبكيه بال... Share Options Rasha Kashef via Nashat Ibrahim Like · · 1 · 24 minutes ago · Options Muslim Brotherhood the TRUTH Watch the Latest Evidence of Muslim Brotherhood militias attacking Azbakeya Police station from 6th of October Bridge. [Police Camera Footage] #MBTRUTH #EgyptVsTerrorism

Khalid Elkasem
Khalid Elkasem

Number of massacres in Egypt during one month has become more than the number of massacres in Palestine during the 50 years The massacre of the Republican Guard ....... 111 Shahid Massacre podium ..................... 255 Shahid Massacre fourth and Renaissance ............. 2600 martyr ... Ramses massacre .................. 103 Shahid Massacre leader Ibrahim ............ 31 martyr Bridge October massacre ............. 16 martyr The Abu Zaabal ................... massacre 37 martyr Of course de Unlike Elly died in the provinces or marches Vdyohat to Mzabh the coup in Egypt The massacre of worshipers: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DF5YjtlXeyw Massacre mandate: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=74SIZia7twY the the Disengagement fourth: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10153116213685442 the Guard massacre: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LT44041jnQA Disengagement massacre fourth: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x6Mnm9neSLc the Massacre mandate: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yDDJBl9h-nA the Uncleanness with police protesters: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RQ5ALWcaC0k the (Shaft people people aspiration exit security, video de Biodh beating demonstrators and humiliated) Woody footage Also Ptodh Hunting, beating .. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lDUrJSA05Ds http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I79bSeuMTgA http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KHr44RLTFfQ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gqug8WdokU0 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xVVWueP3oU0 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kv-y5qmCJng http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZCgsh5HfctQ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hLc2z7oYvs4 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CInSK6Iu_2s http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_HP7_P0TcKg http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X9dn0pU8_KQ

Eng Saso
Eng Saso

I am Egyptian ...I reject the military coup ...I am what is happening in Egypt now is a bloodless military coup burn and kill all his opponents ...We want to live the life of a democracy and freedom of military rule

My New Life in Asia
My New Life in Asia

I wonder why the US and UK governments are so eager to spread anti-Western propaganda. Chinese propaganda couldn't have found better partners.

TheDisclosure
TheDisclosure

"That would help terrorism..."

Utter balls...

IanPJ
IanPJ

@TIME In a newspaper office! I'm sure there must be at least 1 snappy photographer or CCTV to be able to prove their assertion.

bong_jamesbong
bong_jamesbong

@TIME Never thot Id live to see the day when books were burned in the UK. I must be getting old. Goodbye press freedom, hello fascism

DanBruce
DanBruce

@hkc123 Better yet, think twice before leaking classified security documents to glory-seeking reporters.

DeweySayenoff
DeweySayenoff

I suppose stopping 5 world trade center kind of attacks per year for eleven years just aren't worth the effort, huh?

Call me rational and objective about it, but if you consider that foreign attacks on American soil have consisted of about 10 in the entire history of the United States, stopping 54 of them in 11 years - or five per year on average - seems to be a damn good score to me.  Certainly worth the effort.  

As for privacy, no one bothers to consider that these programs have been going on for 10 or more years and the United States still isn't a police state (claims of ultra-rightists - who have a lot to fear from NSA scrutiny considering they were ID'd in 2009 as the most likely source of violence against the U.S. - notwithstanding).  No one is being "disappeared".  No secret prisons for the average Joe on the streets.  No hue and cry AT ALL about high-handed tactics by American authorities (or UK for that matter) against innocents (save for one case involving a Portland, OR lawyer, but that had to do with finding out finger prints aren't always reliable and had nothing to do with PRISM or any "privacy" violations).

Not one damn word in 11 years and then one traitor leaks secrets to our enemies and he's called a hero and everyone has their knickers in a bunch over all the e-mails they've already sent and had nothing bad happen to them in the past eleven years.  No perspective.  No rational thought.  Just a bunch of jerking knees worried about "what MIGHT happen".

Considering the psychotic, bipolar governments the U.S. has had in the last 11 years, if something bad was gonna happen, IT WOULD HAVE HAPPENED BY NOW.  All that's happened is a whiny, little traitor is selling his secrets to the one country that has always been at odds with the United States (even during World War II) and a bunch of chickens without any heads from the mouth up are running around squawking about how the  sky is falling.

God, I wish people would grow a pair, grow a useful brain and grow the hell up for a change.

mical
mical

and before anyone says it, yes, I know this was in the UK and not the US.

RamonRoman
RamonRoman

@Mizo Zizo With all due respect, you are an idiot. As far as I know, there is a considerable number of Muslim living in the USA. Besides, mr democratic man, the MB brotherhood was overthrown after they won fair an square a democratic election. So, according to you and many fanatics, a democracy is a functional democracy only when you and your kind, wins it. The rest are not worth it.

sixtymile
sixtymile

@bong_jamesbong @TIME England needs to get some laws on the books that actually establish press freedom, not not just expect it out of habit.

FrankBurns1
FrankBurns1

@DeweySayenoff The US is not a police state? I beg to differ. Citizens there have no rights against the police. People like yourself who have never had a problem with them will guffaw -- but just wait till they give you a problem -- you will suddenly change your tune.

poliphobic
poliphobic

@RobertParent @poliphobic 

but even if they did, it would only be for our own good - they only have the wellbeing of their people at heart - is that not right?

Padmore
Padmore

@sixtymile @TIME Legislation can establish press freedom and also take it away and therefore is no long term guarantee. What is more effective is habit, if the government always just assumes that there is press freedom and that it is for the greater good then it won't attack it.

sixtymile
sixtymile

@Padmore In contrast, the real history of 1st Amendment is that the courts have had to enforce it many times against the power of executive prosecution (persecution). Without such protection press will be charged with various state secrecy crimes. Those laws are already on the books.