Britain defends top official's role in halting Snowden reports

Reuters News
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Posted: Aug 21, 2013 8:54 AM

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's Home Secretary Theresa May defended on Wednesday the involvement of the nation's most senior civil servant in ordering the Guardian newspaper to surrender leaked documents related to British and U.S. surveillance programs.

May said it was appropriate for top level officials including Cabinet Secretary Jeremy Heywood to have been involved in trying to stop media coverage of secrets leaked by fugitive U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden.

Sources told Reuters on Wednesday that British Prime Minister David Cameron ordered Heywood to contact the newspaper to try to stop the revelations.

"I think issues of national security are rightly addressed at an appropriate level within government and I do not find it surprising that someone at a very senior level within government should be involved in this particular issue," May told the BBC.

(Reporting By Costas Pitas, Editing by Belinda Goldsmith)