UK & World News

  • 3 December 2013, 18:09

Guardian Editor Sent Secret Files By FedEx

Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger has told a parliamentary committee that he sent top secret files, stolen by Edward Snowden, to America via Fed Ex without redacting the names of intelligence officers, but that security had not been compromised.

Mr Rusbridger, 59, was appearing before the all-party Home Affairs Select Committee just weeks after intelligence chiefs told Parliament that The Guardian's behaviour regarding the Snowden files was damaging national security and a "gift to terrorists".

Some critics believe that sending the files outside of the newspaper's offices may be illegal.

Mr Rusbridger said he had sent some of the former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor's files abroad via Fed Ex but that they were encrypted to "military standard" and that at no time had The Guardian lost control of them.

"We have never used a single name. We've published no names and lost control of no names," he told MPs.

Committee member and Conservative MP Michael Ellis suggested to Mr Rusbridger that when he communicated the Snowden files, which contained names of intelligence officers, he committed a criminal offence.

"You may be a lawyer, Mr Ellis, I'm not, so I will leave that with you," the editor replied.

He also revealed that The Guardian had paid for the flights of David Miranda, who was carrying some of the files in electronic form when detained at Heathrow airport this summer under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000. Mr Miranda is the partner of ex-Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald.

During sometimes tetchy exchanges, Mr Rusbridger was asked by committee chairman Keith Vaz if he "loved this country".

The editor replied on behalf of his staff: "There are countries - and they are not generally democracies - where the press are not free to write about this and where the security services do tell editors what to write.

"That's not the country we live in, in Britain, and it's one of the things we love about the country."

He also said that only 1% of the intelligence files have been published. It was known that only a fraction of the material The Guardian obtained has been revealed.

Mr Vaz then asked if the remaining 99% of files not published were in a secure place. The editor replied: "I believe that to be true."

Asked where they were, he said: "This is an ongoing story we are writing. If you think it's sensible I talk about where the exact files are I can write to you.

"But I'm not sure that's really sensible to talk about the existence of other files in other bits of the world."

Earlier this year, MI5 director general Andrew Parker said The Guardian's decision to reveal details about the work of GCHQ was a "gift to terrorists".

And Sir John Sawers, head of MI6, said terrorists were "rubbing their hands with glee" at the Snowden disclosures.

Asked to respond to the criticism, Mr Rusbridger said The Guardian was not a "rogue newspaper" and other editors of "leading" newspapers decided to publish details in the NSA files.

A Cabinet Office Spokesman said: "Nothing we've heard today from Alan Rusbridger changes the facts or the Government's position.

"The Guardian's publication and non-secure storage of secret documents has had a damaging effect on our national security capabilities."

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