Press Freedom in the UK?

BBC

David Miranda Heathrow detention: No 10 ‘kept abreast of operation’

August 20, 2013

No 10 was “kept abreast” of the decision to detain David Miranda, the partner of Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, a spokesman has said. Mr Miranda was held at Heathrow for nine hours on Sunday, while in transit from Germany to Brazil. He has launched a legal challenge over the police’s use of anti-terror laws to detain him and seize his property. But Home Secretary Theresa May said the police must act if someone had “highly sensitive stolen information”.

Mr Miranda, a 28-year-old Brazilian national, was held at Heathrow on his way from Berlin to Rio de Janeiro where he lives with Mr Greenwald. The Guardian said he had been carrying “journalistic materials” but was not an employee of the newspaper. Mr Greenwald has broken most of the stories about state surveillance based on the leaks from fugitive Edward Snowden, who used to work at the US National Security Agency. Mr Miranda said he was held in a room and questioned by six agents about his “entire life”. They confiscated his laptop, an additional hard drive, two memory sticks, a mobile phone, a smart watch and a video games console, his lawyers said.

He was required to divulge the passwords to his personal computers, phone and encrypted storage devices, they added. In Germany, Mr Miranda had been staying with US film-maker Laura Poitras, who has also reportedly been working on the Snowden files with the Guardian. DVDs of two of her films – The Oath and My Country, My Country – were also seized at Heathrow, the lawyers added. Mr Miranda was detained under schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000. This allows police to hold someone at an airport, port or international rail station for up to nine hours for questioning about whether they have been involved with acts of terrorism.

Source = BBC News

guardian

David Miranda’s lawyers threaten legal action over ‘unlawful’ detention

August 20, 2013

Lawyers for the partner of the Guardian journalist who exposed mass email surveillance have written to home secretary Theresa May and the head of the Metropolitan police warning them that they are set to take legal action over what they say amounted to his “unlawful” detention at Heathrow airport under anti-terror laws. In their letter to May and Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe they warn they are seeking immediate undertakings for the return David Miranda‘s laptop and all other electronic equipment within seven days. His lawyers at the London firm Bindmans are seeking an official undertaking that there will be “no inspection, copying, disclosure, transfer, distribution or interference, in any way with our client’s data”. But they say if there has already been an inspection of his laptop and other equipment it should not be disclosed to any third party, domestic or foreign and should be kept secure pending the outcome of the legal action.

Source = The Guardian

David Miranda, schedule 7 and the danger that all reporters now face

August 20, 2013

“You’ve had your fun. Now we want the stuff back.”

The detention of Miranda has rightly caused international dismay because it feeds into a perception that the US and UK governments – while claiming to welcome the debate around state surveillance started by Snowden – are also intent on stemming the tide of leaks and on pursuing the whistleblower with a vengeance. That perception is right. Here follows a little background on the considerable obstacles being placed in the way of informing the public about what the intelligence agencies, governments and corporations are up to. A little over two months ago I was contacted by a very senior government official claiming to represent the views of the prime minister. There followed two meetings in which he demanded the return or destruction of all the material we were working on. The tone was steely, if cordial, but there was an implicit threat that others within government and Whitehall favoured a far more draconian approach.

The mood toughened just over a month ago, when I received a phone call from the centre of government telling me: “You’ve had your fun. Now we want the stuff back.” There followed further meetings with shadowy Whitehall figures. The demand was the same: hand the Snowden material back or destroy it. I explained that we could not research and report on this subject if we complied with this request. The man from Whitehall looked mystified. “You’ve had your debate. There’s no need to write any more.” During one of these meetings I asked directly whether the government would move to close down the Guardian’s reporting through a legal route – by going to court to force the surrender of the material on which we were working. The official confirmed that, in the absence of handover or destruction, this was indeed the government’s intention. Prior restraint, near impossible in the US, was now explicitly and imminently on the table in the UK. But my experience over WikiLeaks – the thumb drive and the first amendment – had already prepared me for this moment. I explained to the man from Whitehall about the nature of international collaborations and the way in which, these days, media organisations could take advantage of the most permissive legal environments. Bluntly, we did not have to do our reporting from London. Already most of the NSA stories were being reported and edited out of New York. And had it occurred to him that Greenwald lived in Brazil?

The man was unmoved. And so one of the more bizarre moments in the Guardian’s long history occurred – with two GCHQ security experts overseeing the destruction of hard drives in the Guardian’s basement just to make sure there was nothing in the mangled bits of metal which could possibly be of any interest to passing Chinese agents. “We can call off the black helicopters,” joked one as we swept up the remains of a MacBook Pro. Whitehall was satisfied, but it felt like a peculiarly pointless piece of symbolism that understood nothing about the digital age. We will continue to do patient, painstaking reporting on the Snowden documents, we just won’t do it in London. The seizure of Miranda’s laptop, phones, hard drives and camera will similarly have no effect on Greenwald’s work.

Source = The Guardian

The Mail

The Guardian allowed GCHQ spies into its offices to oversee destruction of leaked NSA data after ‘senior Government figure backed by Prime Minister’ threatened legal action

August 20, 2013

The Guardian newspaper allowed British agents spies into its London offices to oversee destruction of leaked NSA data after the government threatened legal action. The newspaper’s editor Alan Rusbridger claimed in an opinion piece published on the Guardian’s website that a pair of staffers from British eavesdropping agency GCHQ monitored the hard drives being destroyed. Shortly after his paper began publishing reports based on Snowden’s leaks, he said he was contacted by ‘a very senior government official claiming to represent the views of the prime minister’ who demanded the return or destruction of Snowden’s material.

Mr Rusbridger said dialogue with officials started around two months ago, before their ‘mood toughened’ around a month ago, when he claims he ‘received a phone call from the centre of government telling me: ‘You’ve had your fun. Now we want the stuff back’.’ He revealed he held a series of meetings with ‘shadowy Whitehall figures’, in which he was asked to destroy all Edward Snowden related material. Eventually, he said, officials threatened legal action, and that’s when the editor allowed British agents into his basement. He adds that he told the official he intended to publish the material abroad, should the government seek to stifle them using legal routes, before hardware was destroyed at the newspapers basement.

‘And so one of the more bizarre moments in the Guardian’s long history occurred – with two GCHQ security experts overseeing the destruction of hard drives in the Guardian’s basement just to make sure there was nothing in the mangled bits of metal which could possibly be of any interest to passing Chinese agents. “We can call off the black helicopters” joked one as we swept up the remains of a MacBook Pro.’ The revelations come a day after David Miranda, the partner of Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald – who interviewed American whistle-blower Edward Snowden – was held and questioned at Heathrow Airport for nine hours, under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000. Today Theresa May revealed she was briefed in advance of the possible detention of Mr Miranda at Heathrow Airport.

But the Home Secretary said that it was not for her to tell the police who they should or should not stop at ports, or who they should arrest. She said: ‘If it is believed that somebody has in their possession highly sensitive stolen information which could help terrorists, which could lead to a loss of lives, then it is right that the police act and that is what the law enables them to do.’

Source = The Mail

guardian

David Miranda detention: schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act explained

August 19, 2013

Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000 is like a Ming vase, said David Anderson QC, the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, in his annual report last month. “Senior ports officers are well aware not only of the value of the power, but of the fact that like all valuable things, it needs careful handling.” The simile was borrowed from his predecessor, Lord Carlile QC, and Anderson is proving just as robust as the Liberal Democrat peer in keeping the government in check. Schedule 7 of the 2000 act allows travellers to be questioned in order to find out whether they appear to be terrorists. They have no right to remain silent or receive legal advice, and they may be detained for up to nine hours.

What’s clear about the way in which this powerful legislation was used at Heathrow airport on Sunday to detail David Miranda, the partner of the Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, is that it received anything but careful handling. Anderson’s figures speak for themselves. Around 245 million passengers used UK ports, according to 2010/11 figures. In the year 2012/13, 61,145 people were stopped and examined under schedule 7, down by 30% on three years earlier. Of those who were stopped last year, only 2,277 were held for more than one hour. For the period April 2009 to March 2012, only 1.2% of those stopped were held for more than three hours.

Little surprise, then, that Theresa May has asked parliament to rein in these powers. Schedule 7 of the anti-social behaviour, crime and policing bill, which has completed its committee stage in the House of Commons, would cut the maximum period to six hours and introduce other safeguards. Why, then, was Miranda detained for eight hours and 55 minutes before being released without charge? It is impossible to escape the conclusion that the power was used disproportionately and therefore inappropriately, despite Scotland Yard’s protestations to the contrary.

Source = The Guardian

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