11/07/2013 03:17 pm ET Updated Nov 07, 2013

Guardian Responds To UK Spy Chiefs On Edward Snowden Leaks


The Guardian is hitting back at criticism of the press by heads of British intelligence agencies on Thursday.

The heads of MI5, GCHQ and MI6 spoke in Parliament about Edward Snowden's leaks, which revealed secret domestic spying programs in the U.S. and the U.K. They criticized the revelations for damaging their work. Prior to the hearing, the former head of GCHQ Sir David Omand also alleged that Glenn Greenwald and other journalists were "dodging around the issue of damage to public security."

"As a result of the revelations we know less about the people who are trying to harm us and we are therefore less safe," Omand said.

The Guardian weighed in on Tuesday. A spokesperson for the newspaper said:

"We welcome the fact that the intelligence chiefs acknowledged that they need to be more open as a result of the Snowden disclosures, but were surprised that unlike in the US and Europe there was no substantive discussion at all about anything Snowden revealed. The disastrous loss of classified data was not the responsibility of journalists but of the intelligence community itself. It is only the involvement of global newspapers that prevented this information from spilling out across the web and genuinely causing a catastrophic leak. We understand that the agencies will always warn that any form of disclosure has a damaging impact on their work – but this cannot mean the end of all questioning and debate."

The British government has been locked in an ongoing battle with the press over coverage of the leaks. In August, it was revealed that GCHQ security officials demanded and oversaw the destruction of hard drives at the Guardian that contained Snowden documents. The UK government also requested that the New York Times hand over Snowden documents, but the Times ignored the request.