UK's Cameron unhappy newspapers still printing Snowden data leaks

LONDON Thu Jan 30, 2014 11:53am EST

A man uses his cell phone to read updates about former U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden answering users' questions on Twitter in this photo illustration, in Sarajevo, January 23, 2014. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

A man uses his cell phone to read updates about former U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden answering users' questions on Twitter in this photo illustration, in Sarajevo, January 23, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Dado Ruvic

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LONDON (Reuters) - British Prime Minister David Cameron said on Thursday he was unhappy that newspapers were still publishing sensitive information leaked by former U.S. intelligence operative Edward Snowden and urged them to stop.

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

"I'm worried about the damage that Snowden has done to our security," Cameron told a parliamentary committee. "I would encourage the newspapers that are endlessly dallying in this to think before they act because ... we are in severe danger of making ourselves less safe."

Cameron has in the past threatened to act to stop the publication of material linked to Snowden and has accused unnamed newspapers of assisting Britain's enemies by helping them avoid surveillance by its intelligence services.

He has previously named Britain's Guardian newspaper as printing such material. The Guardian says it has been careful in choosing what to publish and has not printed any names.

The British police said in December it was checking to see if the newspaper's staff should be investigated for terrorism offences for their handling of the Snowden data, but have not brought any charges.

Cameron said on Thursday that the leaks had inevitably prompted Britons to ask themselves how their confidential data was being used.

Earlier this week, the Foreign Office announced that the head of GCHQ, the British electronic eavesdropping agency featured in some of Snowden's leaks, would step down at the end of this year. It denied his departure was linked to the scandal.

(Reporting by William James and Andrew Osborn; Editing by Andrew Osborn)

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