Guardian editor to face MPs over Snowden intelligence leaks

Alan Rusbridger
Image caption Alan Rusbridger has edited the Guardian since 1995

Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger is to be questioned by MPs over the newspaper's publication of leaks by ex-US security contractor Edward Snowden.

Mr Rusbridger will give evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee next month, a Guardian spokesman confirmed.

The Guardian has published information about how British and US spy agencies monitor communications.

The decision to publish the leaks was criticised by the leaders of UK security services on Thursday.

Documents leaked to the Guardian newspaper by Mr Snowden - who is currently in Moscow where he has sought asylum - revealed that agencies are able to tap into the internet communications of millions of ordinary citizens through GCHQ's Tempora programme.

Services 'defend freedom'

MI6 chief Sir John Sawers warned the Intelligence and Security Committee earlier this week that "our adversaries were rubbing their hands with glee, al-Qaeda is lapping it up" in the wake of the Snowden revelations, adding: "The leaks from Snowden have been very damaging, they've put our operations at risk".

The Guardian, though, has defended its decision to publish the information, saying that the paper's coverage of British and US surveillance had prompted "necessary debate".

On Friday, a spokesman said: "Alan has been invited to give evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee and looks forward to appearing next month."

Mr Sawers, along with the head of MI5 Andrew Parker and GCHQ director Sir Iain Lobban, were questioned by MPs in public after coming under pressure to be more open after the leaks by Mr Snowden revealed widespread spying by GCHQ and the US National Security Agency.

Mr Parker argued that the security services defend, rather than undermine freedom, and pointed to 34 terror plots that had been disrupted by the security services since the terror attacks in London on 7 July 2005.

'Devastating assessment'

News of Mr Rusbridger's appearance before the committee comes as Conservative MPs Julian Smith and Stephen Phillips called on him 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 Mr Snowden to anyone in the US or elsewhere.

Mr Smith and Mr Phillips said Mr Rusbridger's response to a letter from 28 Tory MPs had failed to "acknowledge the devastating assessment of the damage done to the national security of the United Kingdom by the Guardian's reporting of the Snowden leaks", citing the evidence given by the security chiefs.

They continued: "Secondly, it fails to address the question of whether you have acted on every security concern raised by government and whether the Government has felt that it had adequate time to respond to the matters which you have reported."

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