November 9, 2013
The editor of the Guardian is to be questioned by MPs about his newspaper’s publication of intelligence files leaked by the American whistleblower Edward Snowden.
Alan Rusbridger is to appear before the House of Commons home affairs select committee next month following warnings from British security chiefs that the revelations were damaging national security.
“Alan has been invited to give evidence to the home affairs select committee and looks forward to appearing next month,” a Guardian spokeswoman said.
The exposure of surveillance methods had left al-Qaida “rubbing their hands with glee”, the MI6 chief, Sir John Sawers, said when the trio made an unprecedented public appearance together before another parliamentary committee.
The GCHQ boss, Sir Iain Lobban, told the intelligence and security committee that since the whistleblower’s revelations had been made public GCHQ had monitored terrorist groups discussing in “specific terms” how to avoid communications systems they now considered to be vulnerable.
He said the leaks could help dangerous criminals and even paedophiles avoid detection and had put operations at risk.
Rusbridger has defended the newspaper’s role, saying has it has provoked a debate about the extent of intelligence activities, which MPs had failed to do.
News of Rusbridger’s impending appearance before the committee came as two Conservative MPs urged the editor to “acknowledge the devastating assessment” made by the spymasters of the impact of the leaks.
Tories Julian Smith and Stephen Phillips called on Rusbridger to clarify whether he had “acted on every security concern raised by government” over the news stories.
They also asked him to confirm whether anyone at the Guardian had “directed, permitted, facilitated or acquiesced” in the transfer of the files obtained by Snowden to anyone in the US or elsewhere.