Argued that news organisations that had published stories from the Snowden files had performed a public service and highlighted the weakness of the scrutiny of agencies such as GCHQ and the NSA . “It’s self-evident,” he said. “If the president of the US calls a review of everything to do with this and that information only came to light via newspapers, then newspapers have done something oversight failed to do.”
• Asked why parliament had not demanded to know how 850,000 people had been given access to the GCHQ top-secret files taken by Snowden, who was a private security contractor.
Rusbridger said the Guardian had been put under the kind of pressure to stop publishing stories that would have been inconceivable in other countries.
"They include prior restraint, they include a senior Whitehall official coming to see me to say: ’There has been enough debate now’. They include asking for the destruction of our disks. They include MPs calling for the police to prosecute the editor. So there are things that are inconceivable in the US.
“I feel that some of this activity has been designed to intimidate the Guardian.”
In one curious exchange, the committee chair, Keith Vaz, asked Rusbridger if he loved his country.
“I’m slightly surprised to be asked the question,” replied Rusbridger. "But, yes, we are patriots and one of the things we are patriotic about is the nature of democracy, the nature of a free press and the fact that one can in this country discuss and report these things.
“One of the things I love about this country is that we have that freedom to write, and report, and to think and we have some privacy, and those are the concerns which need to be balanced against national security, which no one is underestimating. I can speak for the entire Guardian staff who live in this country that they want to be secure too.”
At one point, the MP Mark Reckless suggested a criminal offence had been committed by sharing some of the Snowden material with the New York Times.
“You have I think Mr Rusbridger admitted a criminal offence in your response. Do you consider that it would not be in the public interest for the CPS [Crown Prosecution Service] to prosecute?”
Rusbridger replied: “I think it depends on your view of a free press.”
He said the Guardian had not lost control of any of the documents and the newspaper had used “military-grade” encryption to safeguard the files.
“No data was lost, we lost control of no data. No names have leaked from the Guardian.”