Guardian will not be intimidated over NSA leaks, Alan Rusbridger tells MPs

by Nick Hopkins and Matthew Taylor, The Guardian, 12/3/13

Editor tells parliamentary committee that stories revealing mass surveillance by UK and US have prompted global debate

The Guardian has come under concerted pressure and intimidation designed to stop it from publishing stories of huge public interest that have revealed the “staggering” scale of Britain’s and America’s secret surveillance programmes, the editor-in-chief of the newspaper has said.

Giving evidence to a parliamentary committee about stories based on the National Security Agency leaks from the whistleblower Edward Snowden, Alan Rusbridger said the Guardian “would not be put off by intimidation, but nor are we going to behave recklessly”.

He told MPs that disclosures from the files had generated a global debate about the powers of state agencies, and the weaknesses of the laws and oversight regimes they worked within.

“In terms of the broader debate, I can’t think of a story in recent times that has ricocheted around the world like this has and which has been more broadly debated in parliaments, in courts and amongst NGOs,” he said.

“The roll call of people who have said there needs to be a debate about this includes three presidents of the United States, two vice-presidents, generals, the security chiefs in the US [who] are all saying this is a debate that in retrospect we had to have.”

During an hour-long session in front of the home affairs select committee, Rusbridger also:

• Said the Guardian had consulted government officials and intelligence agencies – including the FBI, GCHQ, the White House and the Cabinet Office – on more than 100 occasions before the publication of stories….

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