Guardian has "held back a great deal" of leaked data, editor says

Alan Rusbridger, editor of the Guardian newspaper, has said he has "held back a great deal" of information about the Edward Snowden case out of concern for the consequences for national security.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4 today, Rusbridger said that there is a problem when you "start conflating journalism and terrorism".

This follows the detention of David Miranda, partner of the Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald who leaked information from US whistleblower Edward Snowden, at Heathrow airport.

During Miranda’s nine hour detention, police confiscated electronic devices, thought to contain sensitive information relating to Snowden, who is currently taking asylum in Russia. Miranda was offered access to a lawyer, but Rusbridger said he had asked for his own lawyer. This was provided nine hours into the detention.

Miranda has taken legal action to prevent the police from examining the electronic devices seized.

In a comment piece in the Guardian earlier today, the paper’s editor Alan Rusbridger said the paper had been threatened to stop publishing more from Snowden.

The mood toughened just over a month ago, when I received a phone call from the centre of government telling me: "You've had your fun. Now we want the stuff back." There followed further meetings with shadowy Whitehall figures. The demand was the same: hand the Snowden material back or destroy it. I explained that we could not research and report on this subject if we complied with this request. The man from Whitehall looked mystified. "You've had your debate. There's no need to write any more."

Speaking on Radio 4, Rusbridger added that people at the "heart of Whitehall" were involved in the destruction of the material. He said he had initially offered to work with the government to find a way to hold the information safely, but communications broke down.

The Home Office has defended the detention, saying the government has a “duty to protect the public and our national security”.

Rusbridger said that Greenwald is still in touch with Snowden.

Rusbridger on the BBC: