Only 1% of Snowden files published – Guardian editor

Only 1% of files leaked by former US intelligence analyst Edward Snowden have been published by the Guardian newspaper, its editor has told MPs.

Alan Rusbridger told the Home Affairs Select Committee the Guardian was not a “rogue newspaper”.

He insisted the paper’s journalists were “patriots” and he hailed the UK’s democracy and free press.

But a government spokesman said later it still believed that publishing the material had damaged national security.

Mr Rusbridger told MPs that senior officials in Whitehall, the US administration and the US senate’s intelligence committee had told the paper “no damage” had been caused.

He also said criticism about damage to national security made by intelligence chiefs at a different committee hearing had been “very vague and not rooted in specific stories”.

“There are different views about this,” he said. “It’s impossible to assess because no one has given me specific evidence.”

Asked by committee chairman Keith Vaz MP if he “loved this country”, Mr Rusbridger said he was “slightly surprised to be asked”.

“We are patriots and one of the things we are patriotic about is the nature of the democracy and the nature of a free press and the fact that one can in this country discuss and report these things,” he said.

He added: “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.”

Mr Rusbridger said he was not a lawyer and so could not answer a question by Conservative MP Michael Ellis about whether he had broken the Terrorism Act by sharing information listing the names of security officials abroad with other newspapers.

The Guardian editor said the paper had “made very selective judgments”‘ about what to publish from the files taken by Mr Snowden, a former contractor with the National Security Agency (NSA), and had not revealed the names of any officials.

“We have published I think 26 documents so far out of the 58,000 we’ve seen,” he said.

He said stories in publications including the Guardian, the New York Times, the Washington Post and Der Spiegel had prompted much-needed debate about the scale of intelligence activities and exposed the limits of laws drawn up in the pre-internet era.

Among the stories carried by the Guardian were reports revealing that agencies were able to tap into the internet communications of ordinary citizens, that the NSA had monitored the phones of 35 world leaders, and that embassies had been the targets of US spies.

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Dan Mullin is an active writer and editor for the Pluto Daily who covered the 2014 Ebola Outbreak. Mullin attended the Wake Forest School of Medicine before leaving to pursue his lifelong science goal of allowing humans to live forever via a computer/brain transfer.