MOSCOW, August 21 (RIA Novosti) – The Russian Foreign Ministry sharply criticized Wednesday a British crackdown on The Guardian newspaper over its publication of secret documents leaked by former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden.
The Guardian’s editor-in-chief, Alan Rusbridger, has claimed that he was ordered by the British government to destroy or return some of the newspaper's Snowden files or face a court action.
In addition, David Miranda, a Brazilian national who has been working with Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald on Snowden’s intelligence leaks, was held and questioned Sunday at London’s Heathrow Airport as he traveled from Berlin to Rio de Janeiro.
“The steps taken by the British authorities against The Guardian newspaper conflict with their claims of respect for human rights, including freedom of the press, journalists’ rights and the protection of human life,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said in a statement posted on the ministry’s website.
“It is a manifestation of double-standard policies applied by London regarding human rights,” he said.
Snowden, who handed over the security-sensitive material that formed the basis of the newspaper's reports written by Greenwald, has been granted temporary asylum in Russia.
Meanwhile, Russia’s history of dealing with journalists has its own “black pages.”
Luke Harding, a Moscow correspondent for The Guardian, was expelled from Russia in 2011 on claims that he had violated accreditation rules. Some media sources had speculated, though, that he was blacklisted as a person whose presence in the country was "undesirable."
Harding reportedly fell afoul of the Russian authorities on numerous occasions, mainly for filing articles claiming that Russian leader Vladimir Putin had a $40 billion offshore account. The journalist was briefly detained while reporting last year from the volatile North Caucasus republic of Ingushetia.
He was also responsible for reporting on US diplomatic cables leaked to The Guardian by anti-secrecy organization WikiLeaks, including allegations that Russia under Putin’s rule had become a "virtual mafia state."