MEDIA
08/21/2013 08:11 am ET | Updated Oct 21, 2013

David Cameron, UK Government Under Fire For Aggressive Intervention In The Guardian's Reporting

The political row over the British government's aggressive intervention into the Guardian's national security reporting continued on Wednesday, as it was revealed that Prime Minister David Cameron dispatched his top civil servant to demand that the paper hand over the sensitive files it had acquired from NSA leaker Edward Snowden. Moreover, one of the people responsible for the anti-terrorism law used to detain Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald's partner said the government had abused the statute.

Multiple outlets reported that Sir Jeremy Heywood had been tasked with pressuring the Guardian to either hand over the documents or destroy them if it did not want to face legal action.

"The prime minister asked [Heywood] to deal with this matter, that's true," a source told Reuters.

The Guardian wound up destroying several hard drives in the presence of several members of Britain's security services, even though, as the paper's editor Alan Rusbridger pointed out, copies of the same files still exist elsewhere.

The Committee to Protect Journalists waded into the controversy in a statement, calling the destruction of the hard drives, and the detention of Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald's partner David Miranda, part of a "disturbing record of official harassment of the Guardian over its coverage of the Snowden leaks."

The government also came under increased pressure over Miranda's detention, which took place under the auspices of the Terrorism Act. Miranda is set to take legal action against the government over the detention, which his lawyers have called "unlawful."

Miranda got a boost on Wednesday when Lord Falconer, who served as a top legal official during Tony Blair's government and helped bring the act into law, told the BBC that it had been wrongfully used in his case.

"The powers...can only be used where the purpose of using them is to determine whether somebody is a terrorist," he said. "If you know they're not a terrorist, then you can't use these powers."

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