San Francisco, February 7, 2014–The Committee to Protect Journalists is deeply troubled by a report that a potential operation by the British intelligence agency Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) involved covert surveillance of reporters’ communications. GCHQ sought to use journalists to pass both information and disinformation to intelligence targets, according to documents taken from the National Security Agency by Edward Snowden and obtained by NBC News.
“CPJ is concerned about reports that GCHQ sought to co-opt members of the news media by surveilling and feeding false information to them. A journalist’s most valuable assets are credibility and independence,” said Geoffrey King, CPJ’s Internet Advocacy Coordinator. “Reporters everywhere are put at risk if they are perceived to be agents of the state.”
NBC reported that the operation was never executed. CPJ on Thursday said that disruptions to the free flow of information caused by mass surveillance programs in the U.K. and U.S. landed cyberspace on its Risk List, which highlights places where press freedom deteriorated in 2013.