Home > All, Politics, Security Issues > The Independent slaps down MP Julian Smith; accuses GCHQ of spying on German allies

The Independent slaps down MP Julian Smith; accuses GCHQ of spying on German allies

November 6, 2013 Leave a comment Go to comments
...making a stand for freedom of the press

…making a stand for freedom of the press

The Independent has delivered a well-directed and thoroughly deserved slap in the face to Conservative MP Julian Smith. Smith is an active supporter of Cameron’s attempts to deflect criticism away from GCHQ’s ‘mastering the internet’ mass surveillance, and direct it instead against the Guardian for daring to be a newspaper.

Cameron has warned that the government is unlikely to sit idly by while the Guardian exposes the nation to unbridled terrorism. Smith has gone further – he has reported the Guardian to the police. “Last week, I wrote to the Metropolitan Police Commissioner to ask him to investigate whether The Guardian has breached those two Acts [the Terrorism Act and the Official Secrets Act]. I urge the Minister to do everything possible to ensure that the police expedite their investigation.”

At the same time (this was in a parliamentary debate that he instigated specifically to label the Guardian as traitors), he praised the Independent for seeing the light and declining to publish any further nationally damaging leaks:

Over the summer, The Independent also saw the Snowden files and wrote a highly damaging report on a middle eastern UK base. Similar to The Guardian, The Independent did not adequately balance journalism and the national interest. Unlike their Guardian colleagues, however, the Independent journalists soon stopped…

The implication is clear: Guardian bad journalist for publishing the truth that the government doesn’t want to be known; Independent good journalist for not publishing the truth that the government doesn’t want to be known.

Let’s face it – this equates the Independent with the Daily Mail. And it was clearly a slur too far for the Independent. Yesterday it published new Snowden revelations: GCHQ (clearly a spy agency out of control) operates a listening post within yards of the German Parliament and Chancellor Merkel’s office (my account with Infosecurity Magazine is here). This revelation, I might add, is slightly more damaging to the national interest than that GCHQ monitors what’s going on in the Middle East: Britain spies on what European politician Jan Philipp Albrecht describes as German “politicians and journalists”.

But it is more than just a new revelation: it is the Independent standing up for freedom of the press in the face of rising government hysteria and aggression. And for that it should garner great kudos.

Categories: All, Politics, Security Issues
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