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Footage released of The Guardian destroying Snowden hard drives

A video has been released of The Guardian editors destroying computers storing documents leaked by Edward Snowden

Published: Updated:

Video footage has been released of the moment The Guardian editors destroyed computers storing classified documents leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, the newspaper reported on Saturday.

Under the watch of two technicians from the British government spy agency GCHQ, three Guardian staff members took angle-grinders and drills to the internal components of the computers on July 20.

The incident took place in the basement of The Guardian’s London HQ after tense interactions with Downing Street over the publication of top secret information by the newspaper.

British Cabinet Secretary Jeremy Heywood met with The Guardian’s editor, Alan Rusbridger, in June and July to request that the Snowden documents be handed over to the British government.

According to the newspaper, Heywood said “We can do this nicely or we can go to law,” adding “a lot of people in government think you should be closed down.”

Three Guardian staff members – Johnson, executive director Sheila Fitzsimons and computer expert David Blishen – carried out the demolition of The Guardian’s hard drives, the newspaper reported.

“It was purely a symbolic act,” Johnson said. "”We knew that. GCHQ knew that. And the government knew that.”

“It was the most surreal event I have witnessed in British journalism,” he added.