Scotland Yard’s counterterrorism head told parliament Tuesday that the UK-based Guardian newspaper could face terrorism charges for publishing secret surveillance material leaked by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.
Assistant Commissioner Cressida Dick testified before Parliament about the investigation shortly after Guardian editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger’s hearing, where he stated the newspaper had only released one percent of the Snowden documents so far.
“It appears possible that some people may have committed offenses. We need to establish whether they have or haven’t. That involves scoping a huge amount of material,” Dick said according to The Guardian.
Dick told British lawmakers the newspaper might have violated laws for moving and writing about secret documents that could have the potential to endanger the lives of British spies.
Snowden-leaked material was already confiscated from former Guardian reporter Glenn Greenwald’s partner before he boarded an international flight in August. Greenwald was the first to break the NSA story earlier this summer.
During Rusbridger’s hearing, the parliamentary panel accused the editor in chief of publishing information that put military or intelligence service members in danger — a violation of Section 58A of the British Terrorism Act.
“We have published I think 26 documents so far out of the 58,000 we’ve seen, or 58,000 plus. So we have made very selective judgments about what to print. We have published no names and we have lost control of no names,” Rusbridger said.
“It isn’t only about what you’ve published, it’s about what you’ve communicated. That is what amounts, or can amount, to a criminal offense,” House of Commons member Michael Ellis countered.
“I feel that some of this activity has been designed to intimidate The Guardian,” Rusbridger said. “We’re not going to be put off by intimidation, but nor are we going to behave recklessly.”
When asked if he loved his country, Rusbridger responded, “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 democracy and the nature of a free press.”