UK and US 'demonise journalists to avoid spy debate'

Liberty director Shami Chakrabarti said the revelations showed "our rulers' contempt for personal rights, freedoms and the rule of law". Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Archive

The UK and US governments are demonising journalists for the "principled" publishing of documents leaked by US whistleblower Edward Snowden to avoid a debate about the impact of their spying disclosures, leading human rights campaigners have said.

A joint statement by Liberty director Shami Chakrabarti and Anthony Romero, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, said: "The Guardian's decision to expose the extent to which our privacy is being violated should be applauded and not condemned."

They said debate in Britain about the impact of the disclosures "is in danger of being lost beneath self-serving spin and scaremongering, with journalists who dare to question the secret state accused of aiding the enemy".

The statement added: "A balance must of course be struck between security and transparency, but that cannot be achieved whilst the intelligence services and their political masters seek to avoid any scrutiny of, or debate about, their actions."