Britain's Cameron says may act against press over spy leaks

LONDON Mon Oct 28, 2013 1:23pm EDT

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron addresses a news conference during a European Union leaders summit in Brussels October 25, 2013. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron addresses a news conference during a European Union leaders summit in Brussels October 25, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Francois Lenoir

Related Topics

LONDON (Reuters) - British Prime Minister David Cameron threatened on Monday to act to stop newspapers publishing what he called damaging leaks from former U.S. intelligence operative Edward Snowden.

"If they don't demonstrate some social responsibility it will be very difficult for government to stand back and not to act," Cameron told parliament.

Britain's Guardian newspaper had printed damaging material after initially agreeing to destroy other sensitive data, he said.

Cameron on Friday accused Snowden and unnamed newspapers of assisting Britain's enemies by helping them avoid surveillance by its intelligence services, saying it was going to be harder to keep Britain safe as a result.

Disclosures about the activities of Britain's GCHQ eavesdropping agency and its cooperation with America's National Security Agency (NSA) have embarrassed the government and angered many lawmakers in Cameron's ruling Conservative party who believe they have harmed national security.

While making clear his patience was running out, Cameron told lawmakers his preference was not to get heavy-handed with newspapers that published such information and that he hoped they would change their behavior instead.

"I don't want to have to use injunctions or D-notices (publication bans) or the other tougher measures. I think it's much better to appeal to newspapers' sense of social responsibility," he said.

(Reporting By Andrew Osborn; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see
Comments (3)
majkmushrm wrote:
Note to David Cameron.
1. Destroying electronic data only works if you destroy all copies of it. Snowden made sure you couldn’t do that.

2. The government is not the arbiter of “social responsibility”.

3. You might stop the Guardian but there’s lots of other media that you cannot muzzle who will pick up right where they left off. You’re on a fool’s errand if you think you can prevent this stuff from getting out.

Oct 28, 2013 1:05pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Overcast451 wrote:
“unless they began to behave more responsibly.”

Why? Government is willing to walk on the rights of the people and the press – maybe government should behave more responsibly first – you think?

Oct 28, 2013 1:15pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Cameron and his cabinet increasingly act like Medieval royalty that can axe freedom whenever they want.
Perhaps the new pretenders should remember that historically the axe also thirsts for, and sooner-or-later chops, pretender heads.
Lest anyone forgets, it was the Blair government who gave birth to the new political royals that have turned the UK’s population into the most government-watched and hounded peasants in democratic history.
When the axe eventually falls, all political families involved should experience/suffer the chop.

Oct 28, 2013 1:43pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.