The Guardian claims to have published only one percent of the material leaked by National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden.
Snowden’s leaks revealed government spying by the United States and British governments.
Alan Rusbridger, editor of The Guardian, said that although Snowden leaked about 58,000 files, his paper only published “about one percent” of the total material. “I would not expect us to be publishing a huge amount more,” Rusbridger said as he was questioned by Parliament’s home affairs committee.
The editor also insisted that The Guardian did not put national security at risk or assist terrorists, as some government officials have accused. Rather, Rusbridger argued that the leaks helped the public as a whole by igniting a world-wide conversation about government surveillance.
He said, “There is no doubt in my mind … that newspapers have done something that oversight has failed to do.”
Still, the British government was so convinced that the leaks aided terrorism that a criminal investigation was launched and David Miranda, the partner of Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, was detained. The British government will not disclose much information about the case, including the specific offenses The Guardian allegedly committed.
Rusbridger went on to say that his newspaper has been under immense pressure from government officials: “I feel that some of this activity has been designed to intimidate the Guardian.” He argued that this would be “inconceivable” in America, where journalists are protected by the First Amendment.
Britain has no constitutional right to free speech. The Guardian is a relatively small publication, with circulation just under 200,000 (although its online presence is fairly sizable). The government treatment of the paper exposes the way the British government views free speech — the freedom of expression is tolerated, so long as it does not “threaten” the public good.