Staff at left leaning UK newspaper, the Guardian, could face criminal charges in their role in publishing information from documents leaked by US whistle blower Edward Snowden, the UK's head of counter terrorism has indicated.
Cressida Dick, assistant commissioner at Scotland Yard, speaking to the Commons home affairs select Committee this week, said that her officers are looking at potential breaches of a specific anti-terrorism law which makes it unlawful to communicate information about British intelligence agents. The offence carries up to 10 years’ imprisonment.
Guardian articles over the last six months have shown that the United States and some of its allies, including Britain, were monitoring phone, email and social media communications on a previously unimagined scale.
Mr Snowden, who worked as a contractor for the US National Security Agency, stole 58,000 documents containing names and other personal details about British intellience operatives, as well as information about this country’s spying techniques and capabilities.
She said, "It appears possible that some people may have committed offences. We need to establish whether they have or have not. That involves scoping a huge amount of material."
Ms Dick commented on material that was seized from the partner of Guardian journalist Glen Greenwald, David Miranda. He was stopped whilst passing through Heathrow airport in August. He was detained for nine hours under the schedule 7 of the terrorism act.
Early on Tuesday Guardian editor, Alan Rusbridger, had to face questions from the Select committee. He was asked by the chair of the Committee, Keith Vaz, “Do you love this country?”
Rusbridger responded with, “We live in a democracy and most of the people working on this story are British people who have families in this country, who love this country. 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, the nature of a free press and the fact that one can, in this country, discuss and report these things.”