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October 9, 2013updated 10 Oct 2013 2:05pm

Rusbridger defends Snowden leaks: ‘any terrorist who can tie his shoelaces’ is aware of surveillance

By Darren Boyle

Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger dismissed criticism of his paper’s Edward Snowden surveillance revelations claiming that any terrorist who can tie his shoe laces knows that the internet is being monitored.

Responding to MI5 chief Andrew Parker’s speech that said printing the capabilities of GCHQ essentially helps terrorists, Rusbridger said more revelations were on the way.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s World at One he said: “Of course if you are on the security side of the argument you want to keep everything secret and you don’t want to take part in any debate and you don’t want the press or anyone else writing about it.

“You would have to be a terrorist who didn’t know how to tie his shoelaces not to believe that people were watching things on the internet and scooping up telephone calls. I don’t think some of this will come as a great surprise to terrorists.

“What is significantly new about what we have been revealing is the extent that entire populations are potentially being put under surveillance. I have just come from a week in America where everybody is talking about it. The President has set up a review panel and concedes that we need a debate. Congress is discussing it. The security chiefs are saying that maybe this debate is overdue as we can’t do this stuff without consent.

Rusbridger said he was surprised by the lack of debate in the UK compared with Europe and the United States, where President Barack Obama has launched his own investigation.

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Also, Rusbridger claimed that Congress was discussing the level of surveillance, prompting a national debate in the US.

He said the Guardian was forced to act because of the lack of scrutiny of the security forces by Parliament.

“If Parliament is not going to have this discussion and the courts will only do this in private then I believe absolutely it falls to the press to stimulate the discussion that is taking place throughout Europe and the United States."

Rusbridger said there had been several cases in the past three months where concerted attempts were made to uncover journalists’ sources using surveillance technology.

"These technologies are formidable. They go far beyond what George Orwell could have imagined."

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