The Guardian has released video showing what it looked like when it was forced by the British government to destroy hard drives containing material from Edward Snowden.
In July of 2013, Prime Minister David Cameron dispatched his senior civil servant to threaten the paper with severe legal action if it did not either hand over the hard drives or destroy them.
Since the Guardian had other copies of the Snowden material, it complied with the demand. The entire episode was widely seen as a dramatic threat to press freedom in Britain, and led to the Guardian's partnering with other news outlets on some of the Snowden files.
The video shows three Guardian journalists using power tools to destroy the hard drives, all while British intelligence officials look on.
The Guardian's Luke Harding described the process in an article accompanying the video:
Three Guardian staff members – Johnson, executive director Sheila Fitzsimons and computer expert David Blishen – carried out the demolition of the Guardian's hard drives. It was hot, sweaty work. On the instructions of GCHQ, the trio bought angle-grinders, dremels – a drill with a revolving bit – and masks. The spy agency provided one piece of hi-tech equipment, a "degausser", which destroys magnetic fields, and erases data. It took three hours to smash up the computers. The journalists then fed the pieces into the degausser.
Two GCHQ technical experts – "Ian" and "Chris" – recorded the process on their iPhones. Afterwards they headed back to GCHQ's doughnut-shaped HQ in Cheltenham carrying presents for family members, bought on their rare visit to the capital.
Read the full story here.