The UK Law Commission wants to overhaul the country’s Espionage Act to prosecute foreigners who “leak confidential information” which “damages” national security and the UK’s economy.
This could, in theory, be used to prosecute overseas journalists – including those in the US – who release damning information on UK officials given to them by whistleblowers.
“Foreigners who leak information overseas that damages British national security could also be prosecuted in the UK for the first time,” the Telegraph reported. “This would include a non-British citizen seconded to a government department and in that role have access to information that relates to security and intelligence.”
“Currently, they can only be prosecuted if the leak is by a British national or happens on UK soil.”
And anyone who leaks “sensitive information” that “affects the economic well-being of the UK” would also be at risk for prosecution, an Orwellian premise given its broad scope.
If the UK adopts the Law Commission’s recommendations, prosecuted foreigners could face up to 14 years in jail – and the UK has extradition agreements with at least 105 countries, including the US.
In addition to foreign journalists, US whistleblowers such as Edward Snowden could also be targeted due to the global interconnection of spy organizations; his NSA leaks in particular also implicated British intelligence.
The UK’s Ministry of Defence already issues “D-Notices” to gag news stories from appearing in British media which the government claims is “harmful to national security implications,” including bombshell reports such as the Snowden leaks that exposed government criminality.
But now it appears the UK wants to go one step further and ensure that damning information is never released to the public to keep the population ignorant and under control.