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UK police warn publishers not to use leaked documents

LONDON — A British investigation into the leaking of confidential diplomatic memos is raising press freedom issues with a police warning that U.K. media might face a criminal inquiry if leaked documents are published.

The Metropolitan Police Counter Terrorism Command is investigating the leak of private memos written by Britain’s ambassador to the United States as a possible breach of the Official Secrets Act.

Counterterrorism police unit leader Neil Basu warned against any further publication of leaked documents. He said that could be a criminal matter.

The Official Secrets Act prohibits public servants from making “damaging” disclosures of classified material.

The chairman of the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, Tom Tugendhat, said Sunday he does not believe publishing leaked material constitutes a crime.

He says a free press is “essential.”

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