NYTimes | Mr. Rusbridger said that two months ago he was contacted by “a very senior government official claiming to present the views of the prime minister,” David Cameron. There were two meetings in which officials “demanded the return or the destruction of the material we were working on,” and in other meetings, he said, officials said: “You’ve had your fun, now we want the stuff back,” and, “You’ve had your debate, there’s no need to write any more.”
The officials then threatened legal action to obtain the documents. Then two security experts from Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters, known as G.C.H.Q., the counterpart to the American National Security Agency, came to oversee the destruction of hard drives in The Guardian basement by Guardian executives, Mr. Rusbridger said.
He called it “one of the most bizarre moments in The Guardian’s long history.”
Efforts to prevent publication of Snowden-related material began on June 7, when defense officials issued a confidential notice to newspapers and broadcasters in an attempt to limit the coverage of Mr. Snowden’s revelations about surveillance tactics employed by intelligence agencies in Britain and the United States.
Editors were reminded not to publish information that could “jeopardize both national security and possibly U.K. personnel.” The notice followed The Guardian’s first publication of details of the American intelligence-gathering program called Prism.
Now, it is not just the opposition Labour Party that is questioning the use of the terrorism laws in this case to seize material intended for journalism, which in countries like the United States would be under more legal protection. David Davis, a Conservative member of Parliament, said that the responses of the Home Office fail “Logic 101.”
“’If you’re not on our side, you’re on the side of the terrorists,’ is what they’re trying to say,” Mr. Davis said.
Robert Wintemute, a professor of human rights law at King’s College, London, said that “I hope this is an aberration rather than a signal of a wider clampdown” on press freedom and human rights. “I do think Greenwald and Miranda should bring this to court, because winning in court will rein in the government’s powers,” he said.