Cressida Dick, head of London's Specialist Operations Unit, told a parliamentary inquiry on Tuesday that the police are investigating whether the newspaper or its employees had committed any criminal offenses following the brief detention in August of a man carrying data on behalf of a Guardian journalist.
"It appears possible once we look at the material that some people may have committed offenses," Dick said. "We need to establish whether they have or they haven't."
Asked if those offenses might include violations of Section 58A of the Terrorism Act, which says it is a crime to publish or communicate any information about members of the nation's armed forces or intelligence services, Dick replied, "Yes, indeed we are looking into that." Section 58 makes it a crime, punishable by up to 10 years in prison, to possess "information of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism."
Security officials have said classified data released by Snowden included details of British spies and that its disclosure would put lives at risk. Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger, summoned by the lawmakers to give evidence at the inquiry, said the newspaper had withheld that information from publication. The Guardian has published less than one percent of the information it has received and has kept the rest stored securely, he said.
"We have published I think 26 documents so far out of the 58,000 we've seen, or 58,000 plus," Rusbridger told the committee. "So we have made very selective judgments about what to print. We have published no names and we have lost control of no names."
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