The Guardian’s Deputy Editor Claims the UK Government Threatened the Paper with Shutdown

Mr Johnson said the whole attitude in the UK was that national security trumped press freedom and that the newspaper should not publish a word…We were threatened that we would be closed down. We were accused of endangering national security and people’s lives. It left us in a very difficult position.

– Paul Johnson, deputy editor of The Guardian

As if you didn’t already recognize the serious threat to press freedom in the UK following authorities holding Glenn Greenwald’s partner David Miranda for eight hours under “terrorism” laws as he transferred through London’s Heathrow airport. It’s not just the traditional press at risk in the UK either, the government is hard at work censoring the internet itself via ridiculous filters.

Now we find out from the Irish Times that:

The Guardian newspaper was threatened with closure by the British government over the Edward Snowden spying affair, the Radiodays Europe conference has been told.

The paper’s deputy editor Paul Johnson said Britain’s intelligence agencies visited them and told them they would be closed if they persisted in printing Snowden’s revelations of mass surveillance involving the National Security Agency (NSA) in the United States and the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) in the UK. Mr Snowden is now in Russia, where he has temporary asylum. He is wanted by the US authorities on espionage charges.

Speaking at the Conference Centre Dublin (CCD), Mr Johnson said the Snowden material was much more difficult to work on than the WikiLeaks tapes because of the intense scrutiny the newspaper was subjected to by the British intelligence services.

Mr Johnson revealed that a senior civil servant had told the paper’s editor, Alan Rusbridger, that the “prime minister, the deputy prime minister, the foreign secretary, the home secretary and the attorney general have got a problem with you”.

Mr Johnson said the whole attitude in the UK was that national security trumped press freedom and that the newspaper should not publish a word. This was in contrast to the US, where the Snowden revelations had led to a debate about how far intelligence agencies should go to protect the state.

“We were threatened that we would be closed down. We were accused of endangering national security and people’s lives. It left us in a very difficult position,” he said.

Full article here.

In Liberty,
Michael Krieger

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  1. mike you’ve been pumping the shit out of bitcoin for a long time. as a fan of new technology and of autonomy , i’ve spent plenty of time on the bitcoin thing in more ways than 1.

    bitcoin plonked out today on renewed rumors that chinese govenrment will prohibit banks providing cash for bitcoin ( money services) .

    well, before these rumors were flying, the gov of china declared bitcoin an asset, not a money. in the u.s. the irs just took the same move.
    and so, it becomes incredibly complex to both trade bitcoin and use them as money, and keep in line with legal requirements of paying taxes on bartered assets.

    the capital gains rules function to require an effective sales tax on every bitcoin transation , that can be offset by the losses. no individual user of bitcoin is going to comply with the letter of the law. they will simply use bitcoin and break the law or they won’t. of course there are complex possible business models that function to take care of this problem at scale for bitcoin users, but it’s just an ugly solution to an inelegant attempt by the irs to complicate the usage of the most liquid of assets.

    so , are the financial regulators going to follow the same rumors in china. while lawsky invites new yorkers to apply for money transmitter bitcoin licenses, are the feds preparing to step in and impose a ‘glass steagal’ nominal prohibition on banks providing money for the bitcoin ‘asset’ .

    for bitcoin in particular?

    i think many bitcoin network/technology believers are tied up in their love with the asset price rise. but still maintain strident that the technology is very powerful. indeed it is. every cryptocoin out there has copy and pasted and photoshopped the same fundamental network technology to create their own currency. in iceland they are ‘air-dropping’ free ‘aurora-coin’ to the populace. indeed new coins in general may be as whispy and ephemeral as the auroro that the auroro coin is made off.

    in the end of the day, bitcoins technology, useful for decentralizing networks in general, may prove far more useful for decentralizing interenet services in general, than money in particular. that is to say, the price of bitcoin could remain under 800 dollar for 10 years. easily.

    people forget aol stock was 160 billion at the peak of the internet bubble in 2000. they bought time warner for 127 billion, then broke up and are now a 3 billion market cap company.

    but they’re still in business. bitcoin could also follow that trajectory. why isn’t ‘survival’ in itself success? why does everyone have to believe bitocin prices are going to the moon in order to be ‘pro’ bitcoin. it’s like you are either ‘with us or against us’ with many of the bitcoiners out there.
    i understand that pumping it is part of the growth but—-i’m just saying.

    maybe it’s time for you to take a more sober look at bitcoin instead of just saying ‘now it’s serious’ and shitting on a scam like mount gox.

    a little more insight and stoicism on the future of cryptocurrency is in order of the eve of a possible massive tapering . and possible govenrment shutdown of banking services for bitcoin.

    • Michael Krieger

      In case you missed it. From one of my earliest posts on Bitcoin. From March 2013. These sentiments still stand:

      The point is no matter what ends up happening with Bitcoin, it is showing us all the way forward. It is showing humanity that we don’t need government for money. We certainly don’t need Central Banks. All we need is each other and a mutual means of exchange by which we agree to trade with each other, no matter what that may be. Bitcoin has led the cat out of the bag and there’s no putting it back in now.

      Based on intuition, psychology and nothing more I suspect the Bitcoin market will hit a total value of about $1 billion before experiencing a severe pullback. That would put the price at around 92. At that point, it is likely to be all over the financial press and I think “the state” may be tempted to threaten it. Supporters of Bitcoin should not only expect such an attack, we should embrace it. Just think about how ridiculous the government will look if they attack Bitcoin. I mean, these guys can’t put a single banker in jail, but when citizens decide to freely exchange goods using a currency of their choice that is where they draw the line! Bitcoin’s purpose is to both show us the way forward and to make the authorities look foolish as they spastically and irrationally respond to it. I suspect it will be highly successful in accomplishing both objectives.

      This was and is an grand experiment and a very useful one at that.

      Michael Krieger

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