U.K. government thought destroying Guardian hard drives would stop Snowden stories

August 19, 2013

(Photo by Carl Berkeley)

In a remarkable post, Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger describes how the British government raided the Guardian's offices in order to destroy hard drives containing information provided by NSA leaker Edward Snowden. The British government had been pressuring the Guardian to return or destroy the Snowden documents. Rusbridger says he tried to explain that destroying hard drives would be pointless:

I explained to the man from Whitehall about the nature of international collaborations and the way in which, these days, media organisations could take advantage of the most permissive legal environments. Bluntly, we did not have to do our reporting from London. Already most of the NSA stories were being reported and edited out of New York. And had it occurred to him that Greenwald lived in Brazil?

The man was unmoved. 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... Whitehall was satisfied, but it felt like a peculiarly pointless piece of symbolism that understood nothing about the digital age.

Rusbridger says the Guardian's investigative work will continue. "We will continue to do patient, painstaking reporting on the Snowden documents," he writes. "We just won't do it in London."

Related:

The Switch: No, Glenn Greenwald didn't 'vow vengeance'

U.S. had advance notice of Britain's plan to detain Greenwald's partner

Barton Gellman: Evidence portrays NSA as 'flawed organization' (VIDEO)

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Andrea Peterson | August 19, 2013