10/14/2013 08:26 am ET Updated Dec 14, 2013

New York Times Confirms It Refused UK Request To Hand Over Snowden Documents


The New York Times was asked to give up the materials it had received from Edward Snowden but refused, the paper's editor Jill Abramson confirmed to the Guardian on Monday.

The Times has collaborated with its UK counterpart, as well as ProPublica, in reporting stories based on leaked documents from Snowden. The Guardian decided to have the American titles join its efforts after the British government detained the partner of its journalist Glenn Greenwald and forced it to destroy copies of the Snowden documents under threat of prosecution.

The Guardian agreed to destroy the files because it knew it had copies in America, where the First Amendment and the Supreme Court have provided stiffer protections for journalists than the British have. Even so, Abramson said that someone from the British embassy in the U.S. came to her and asked her to turn over the files she had.

"Needless to say I considered what they told me, and said no," she said, adding, "The First Amendment is first for a reason."

Earlier reports about the interaction said that Abramson initially greeted the request "in silence."

Read the full interview here.


New York Times