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08/11/2013 15:36 GMT | Updated 23/01/2014 10:53 GMT

Guardian Editor Alan Rusbridger To Appear Before Commons Select Committee Over Snowden Leaks

Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger is to appear before the Commons home affairs select committee in December to answer questions from MPs on the newspaper's publication of intelligence leaks from whistleblower Edward Snowden.

A Guardian spokesperson said on Friday: "Alan has been invited to give evidence to the home affairs select committee and looks forward to appearing next month."

Earlier, the Tories attempted to apply further pressure on the newspaper following Thursday's hearing in which the heads of Britain's intelligence services suggested that publication of disclosures from Edward Snowden had seriously damaged national security.

MPs Julian Smith and Stephen Phillips wrote a letter to editor Rusbridger on Friday demanding that he not only "acknowledge the devastating assessment" of the heads of security, but to also clarify whether the paper had acted on the security concerns of the government.

Giving testimony on Thursday, the heads of MI6, MI5 and GCHQ warned that articles published by the Guardian had already led to terrorists changing their approach, compromising the security of the state.

Writing in response to Rusbridger's letter from 28 Tory MPs on Thursday, Smith and Phillips wrote: "The letter signally fails to do two things... First, it fails to acknowledge the devastating assessment of the damage done to the national security of the United Kingdom by The Guardian's reporting of the Snowden leaks, as yesterday outlined by the heads of the three agencies who gave evidence to the Intelligence and Security Committee in Parliament.

"Secondly, it fails to address the question of whether you have acted on every security concern raised by Government and whether the Government has felt that it had adequate time to respond to the matters which you have reported. We would be grateful for further clarification in relation to the second of these in particular."

the guardian editor

Rusbridger will be questioned by MPs next month

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Meanwhile it has emerged that the Government knew that GCHQ had the capability to secretly access vast quantities of data. Labour former counter-terrorism minister Hazel Blears said the ISC was fully aware of "what they were doing in terms of being able to collect information".

Documents leaked by Mr Snowden revealed that GCHQ covertly accessed fibre-optic cables carrying internet and communications data, in an operation codenamed Tempora. Former cabinet member Chris Huhne complained that senior government figures were kept in the dark about the existence of such techniques, but in what appears to be a first such admission, Ms Blears said the ISC did have a "broad understanding" of what GCHQ's capabilities were.

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Blears, a member of the ISC, told BBC2's Newsnight: "We didn't know the names of these projects, and I'm sure the exact same situation applies in America. But in terms of broad capabilities, yes we did. "We have been looking at them now for several years, we have been on several visits to GCHQ, we've had very, very confidential briefings about what the capabilities were and obviously we were satisfied that they were operating within our legal framework."