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Rusbridger to be quizzed by MPs

The editor of the Guardian is to be questioned by MPs about his newspaper's publication of intelligence files leaked by American whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Alan Rusbridger is to appear before the Commons home affairs select committee next month following warnings from British security chiefs that the revelations were damaging national security.

"Alan has been invited to give evidence to the home affairs select committee and looks forward to appearing next month," a Guardian spokeswoman said.

The heads of the Secret Intelligence Service, MI6, the Security Service, MI5, and the electronic eavesdropping agency, GCHQ, claim terrorist groups are changing their operations as a result of the leaks.

The exposure of surveillance methods had left al Qaida "rubbing their hands with glee", MI6 chief Sir John Sawers said when the trio made an unprecedented public appearance together before another parliamentary committee.

GCHQ boss Sir Iain Lobban told the intelligence and security committee that since the whistleblower's revelations had been made public GCHQ had monitored terrorist groups discussing in "specific terms" how to avoid communications systems they now considered to be vulnerable.

He said the leaks could help dangerous criminals and even paedophiles avoid detection and had put operations at risk.

Mr Rusbridger has defended the newspaper's role, insisting it was stepping in to provoke a debate about the extent of intelligence activities, which MPs had failed to do.

News of the impending appearance came as t wo Conservative MPs urged the editor to " acknowledge the devastating assessment" made by the spymasters of the impact of the leaks.

Tories Julian Smith and Stephen Phillips called on Mr Rusbridger to clarify whether he had " acted on every security concern raised by Government" over the news stories.

They also asked him to confirm whether anyone at the Guardian had " directed, permitted, facilitated or acquiesced" in the transfer of the files obtained by Mr Snowden to anyone in the USA or elsewhere.

Mr Smith and Mr Phillips said his response to a letter from 28 Tory MPs " signally fails to do two things".

"First, it fails to acknowledge the devastating assessment of the damage done to the national security of the United Kingdom by the Guardian's reporting of the Snowden leaks, as yesterday outlined by the heads of the three agencies who gave evidence to the Intelligence and Security Committee in Parliament.

"Secondly, it fails to address the question of whether you have acted on every security concern raised by Government and whether the Government has felt that it had adequate time to respond to the matters which you have reported.

"We would be grateful for further clarification in relation to the second of these in particular."


From Belfast Telegraph