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Guardian Threatened With Terrorism Charges for Reporting NSA Story

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Posted on Dec 3, 2013

British police are investigating the staff of The Guardian newspaper to determine whether acts of journalism can be prosecuted as acts of terrorism.

Assistant Commissioner Cressida Dick said, “It appears possible once we look at the material that some people may have committed offenses. ... We need to establish whether they have or they haven’t.”

As Reuters reports, this comes after members of Parliament accused Guardian Editor Alan Rusbridger of helping terrorists. The Guardian, with the assistance of former employee Glenn Greenwald, broke the story of mass surveillance by the American NSA and its British counterpart, the GCHQ.


Countering criticism by lawmakers, Rusbridger said more emphasis was being given to the Guardian’s decision to publish the leaks than to the fact they had been so easily obtained in the first place.

“We were told that 850,000 people ... had access to the information that a 29-year-old in Hawaii who wasn’t even employed by the American government had access,” he said.

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The British government has previously raided The Guardian’s offices and held Greenwald’s partner, David Miranda, for prolonged questioning under the pretext of counterterrorism. Threatening charges of terrorism smacks of media intimidation—there are more leaks yet to come, and the authorities would probably like to turn off the faucet. In the United States, the Justice Department is reportedly struggling with the problem that it can’t prosecute Julian Assange and not The New York Times and other media outlets, which also released classified information. Apparently in Britain, they’ve taken a different tack.

—Posted by Peter Z. Scheer

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