The head of British intelligence service Mi5 on Wednesday slammed London-based newspaper The Guardian for publishing a cache of stolen top-secret documents earlier this year.
In his first public speech since taking the job in recent months, Andrew Parker said The Guardian had provided a “gift” to terrorists after revelations leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden were published.
The comments have been seized as an opportunity by right-wing newspapers, particularly the Daily Mail, to criticize The Guardian.
“It is the Mail that devotes most space to the story, with an inside spread, while taking the opportunity to attack The Guardian, which it views as its enemy,” wrote Guardian columnist Roy Greenslade in a piece published on Wednesday.
Security officials say that The Guardian’s exposé, which came in early June, amounts to a “guide book,” a “how-to” guide, advising terrorists on the best ways in which to avoid detection when plotting an attack, reported the Mail.
The head of Mi5 said that the leaks published by The Guardian provided an “advantage” to terrorists and were a “gift they need to evade us and strike at will.”
Parker added that there are thought to be several thousand Islamist extremists living in the UK who “see the British people as a legitimate target.”
The Daily Mail published more of Parker’s responses to the leaks explaining the advantage of keeping top-secret information secret.
“What we know about the terrorists, and the detail of the capabilities we use against them, together represent our margin of advantage. That margin gives us the prospect of being able to detect their plots and stop them,” said Parker.
“It causes enormous damage to make public the reach and limits of GCHQ techniques. Such information hands the advantage to the terrorists,” he added.
Snowden, a former contractor for the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA), fled the U.S. in May with thousands of classified documents about the NSA and British intelligence service GCHQ, which he gave to The Guardian.
- The Guardian details confrontation with UK spies over Snowden leaks
- Snowden’s limbo in purported airport hideout
- Snowden in a 'safe place' as U.S. prepares to seek extradition
- U.S. says Snowden should “not be allowed” to travel
- Snowden set to fly out of Russia as U.S. demands handover
- Snowden applies for political asylum in Russia