White House: 'Difficult to imagine' US seizing reporters' hard drives

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Tuesday it was "difficult to imagine" the U.S. would seize and destroy the hard drives of a news organization, a day after Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger claimed British law enforcement officials destroyed computer equipment in the newspaper's basement.

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Guardian journalist Glen Greenwald has written many of the headline-grabbing stories revealing top-secret information about the National Security Agency's surveillance programs, and Rusbridger said Monday that government security experts destroyed hard drives kept at his paper's London headquarters in an attempt to halt further publication.

This revelation came hours after Greenwald's domestic partner, David Miranda, was held for hours at Heathrow Airport.

Earnest said Tuesday that it was difficult to "evaluate the propriety of what they did based on incomplete knowledge of what happened" but that it would be hard to imagine American law enforcement officials destroying the equipment of journalists in the U.S.

"That's very difficult to imagine a scenario in which that would be appropriate," Earnest said.

The White House spokesman's statement came a day after the White House said that it was not involved in the British government's decision to detain Miranda, although it did receive a "heads up" from British authorities.

“The United States was not involved in that decision or that action,” Earnest said at the time.

The U.K. also seized electronic equipment from Miranda during his detention, and Earnest was unable to say whether any of that information had been shared with American intelligence officials.

On Tuesday, an attorney for Miranda said he would sue the British government over his temporary detention and demanded assurances that police would not examine the property seized during the ordeal.

"We’ve sought undertakings that there will be no inspection, copying or disclosure, transfer or interference in any other way with our client’s data,” Miranda’s lawyer, Gwendolen Morgan, told Reuters.