Belfast Telegraph

MP calls for more security leaks

More security leaks should emerge after the Guardian opted to publish secrets in the national interest, a Labour MP has said.

David Winnick also criticised the "orchestrated campaign and intimidation" taking place against the newspaper following its decision to use information leaked by Edward Snowden, a former National Security Agency employee.

Prime Minister David Cameron has claimed the revelations have been damaging to the UK's national security, while Security Minister James Brokenshire suggested th e intelligence services expect to lose track of several terrorists as a result of the Guardian publishing details of GCHQ operations.

But Mr Winnick said allegations that American intelligence services may have targeted German chancellor Angela Merkel's mobile phone would not have been known without Snowden's disclosures.

Conservative Mark Pritchard (The Wrekin) also called for a debate to reform the Official Secrets Act to ensure people are deterred from committing "treason" against the country.

On the Guardian, M r Winnick (Walsall North) told Deputy Commons Leader Tom Brake during business questions: "Would you agree that if we had a debate in the chamber on the orchestrated campaign and intimidation against the Guardian newspaper that would be an opportunity for some of us to point out that if it hadn't been for the Snowden disclosures, the fact the German chancellor's mobile phone had been monitored for some time by the US intelligence gathering would not have been known?

"And surely the message should be about Snowden is let's have more disclosures because undoubtedly what the Guardian is publishing is in the national interest."

Mr Brake replied: " Clearly I don't agree with you in terms of what you say is an orchestrated campaign against the Guardian newspaper.

"I think clearly there is a need for the issues of public interest the Guardian wants to highlight to be balanced with any security implications of any material they put out into the public domain."

Mr Pritchard later raised the Official Secrets Act, telling Mr Brake: " Breaches of the Act in the last decade in the Royal Navy, in SIS (the Secret Intelligence Service) have only attracted light custodial sentences. Isn't it about time the Act was reformed to ensure there is sufficient deterrent against treason in this country?"

Mr Brake replied: "I'm not aware of any debates or opportunities that are coming up shortly for that to be raised. You could of course seek an adjournment debate on the subject. You may also feel if there is a cross-party concern about the issue seek perhaps a debate from the Backbench Business Committee."

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