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GCHQ nabbed journalists’ emails in huge data haul

Newly released files from the Edward Snowden document leaks have revealed that Britain’s GCHQ tapped into e-mails from top UK and global media organisations.

A new report from The Guardian shed light on the revelations, noting that e-mails from the BBC, Reuters, The Guardian, the New York Times, Le Monde, the Sun, NBC, and the Washington Post were all accessed by GCHQ.

What’s more, the e-mails were actually saved and shared across GCHQ’s intranet as ‘part of a test exercise.’

All of the messages were amongst a larger scoop of 70,000 e-mails bagged up in under 10 minutes back in November 2008.

The GCHQ managed this by tapping into fibre-optic cables that provide internet to much of the world.

The Guardian notes that some of the e-mails ‘included correspondence between reporters and editors discussing stories,’ and were ‘retained by GCHQ.’

“The mails appeared to have been captured and stored as the output of a then-new tool being used to strip irrelevant data out of the agency’s tapping process,” wrote James Ball, The Guardian’s Special Reports Editor.

“The disclosure comes as the British government faces intense pressure to protect the confidential communications of reporters, MPs and lawyers from snooping.”

It’s not yet clear whether the journalists’ e-mails were targeted specifically, or just fell under a widely cast net.

Related: UK government most transparent with official data

The documents also revealed that the GCHQ ranked ‘investigative journalists’ as a threat, alongside hackers and terrorists.

The news is especially poignant, as the recent Charlie Hebdo attacks in France have once again put the freedom of expression of the press at the forefront of global debate.

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