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UK officials destroy Guardian hard drives in misguided effort to stop Snowden stories

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burning hard drive (SHUTTERSTOCK)
burning hard drive (SHUTTERSTOCK)

Officials from the British intelligence agency GCHQ raided The Guardian's offices to destroy hard drives related to the newspaper's stories about National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden — despite the fact that the information had already been disseminated to other sites around the world. In a chilling post today, Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger said the British government has put increasing pressure on editors to surrender all of the information that Snowden provided to the newspaper and its chief reporter on the stories, Glenn Greenwald. Prior to the destruction, an official reportedly told the paper, "You've had your fun. Now we want the stuff back." News of the raid comes a day after Greenwald's partner was detained for nine hours and questioned under terrorism statutes at Heathrow Airport.

Rusbridger said he explained to the unnamed government officials that there were other copies of the information they sought to destroy outside of England. But the officials insisted on destroying the drives anyway. Rusbridger said The Guardian would not be dissuaded from continuing to report the Snowden stories, but cautioned that intimidation tactics from government officials in Britain and the United States were making work increasingly difficult for journalists. "We are not there yet, but it may not be long before it will be impossible for journalists to have confidential sources," Rusbridger wrote. "Most reporting — indeed, most human life in 2013 — leaves too much of a digital fingerprint."