Edward Snowden
Media playback is unsupported on your device

Douglas Alexander: public confidence in security 'vital'

The US Justice Department has launched an investigation into the unauthorised release of classified information by the former CIA computer expert, Edward Snowden.

Mr Snowden voluntarily revealed his identity after disclosing that American intelligence agencies were using a secret global surveillance programme to monitor millions of phone calls, emails and other communications.

Shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander told Today it was "vital" that the public had confidence that the security and intelligence services were "operating within a framework of accountability and legality".

He said Foreign Secretary William Hague "does need to seek to give assurances to Parliament about the laws and procedures that are in place, in particular in relation to our vital information-sharing relationship with the United States".

Speaking to the Today programme's Sarah Montague, Sir Malcolm Rifkind, chairman of the committee of MPs and peers which oversees the work of the security services, said GCHQ would need authority for any request to monitor the emails of a UK citizen, even if the surveillance was carried out by the US agencies.

Sir Malcolm said that "in order to protect the public that does require, as President Obama said in Washington, some intrusion on privacy in certain circumstances".

The clips in the audio are taken from a video courtesy of The Guardian, Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras.

First broadcast on BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Monday 10 June 2013.