UK Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has backed British PM David Cameron’s decision to push The Guardian into destroying classified documents it received from the US National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Cameron ordered his top civil servant Sir Jeremy Heywood to collect sensitive material which has been leaked to the paper by Snowden to be published.

Multiple sources, including the paper’s editor Alan Rusbridger, said Heywood had been tasked by the British PM to warn The Guardian to either “hand over the documents or destroy them if it did not want to face legal action”.

Clegg, however, endorsed the government’s decision to destroy leaked secret NSA documents, saying that Britain’s national security could be at risk if the files reached the “wrong hands”.

“The deputy prime minister felt this was a preferable approach to taking legal action. He was keen to protect the Guardian’s freedom to publish, whilst taking the necessary steps to safeguard security,” said a spokesman for the Deputy PM.

The British newspaper, which has revealed part of the information it apparently obtained from Snowden, was in the middle of publishing embarrassing material on mass surveillance programs led by the NSA and its British counterpart the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ).