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article imageOp-Ed: Glenn Greenwald's partner detained at Heathrow for nine hours

By Ken Hanly     Aug 18, 2013 in Politics
London - David Miranda, the partner of Glenn Greenwald whose articles in the Guardian newspaper revealed the extent of NSA spying, was detained by UK authorities for a full nine hours before being released without any charges being laid.
Miranda was merely passing through Heathrow on his way home to Rio de Janeiro. He was returning from a trip to Berlin.
At just after 8 AM local time, he was stopped by officers and told that he would be questioned under schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000. This act only applies at ports and border areas and allows officers to stop, search, question, and detain individuals. A Scotland Yard spokesperson said: "At 08:05 on Sunday, 18 August a 28-year-old man was detained at Heathrow airport under schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000. He was not arrested. He was subsequently released at 17:00."
No evidence has ever been presented which would suggest that Miranda has the slightest connection to terrorism. Of course by this stage, the US and now the UK it would seem, are treating whistle blowers as terrorists. Scotland Yard refused to give any reasons for Miranda being stopped and questioned for the full nine hours allowed. This is a transparent attempt to intimidate.
Most examinations, over 97 per cent, last less than an hour. Only one in 2,000 people detained are kept for more than 6 hours. To add insult to injury the officials confiscated Miranda's mobile phone, laptop, camera, memory sticks, DVDs and even game consoles. The last seems appropriate since the officials seem to be themselves playing an intimidation game.
While in Berlin, Miranda visited Laura Poitras a US film-maker who has been working on the Edward Snowden files with Greenwald and the Guardian newspaper. No doubt all the confiscated data will be sifted over with a fine tooth comb to find out what the "enemy" knows about the spies. Miranda was given no indication if or when he would get his property back.
Greenwald said about the interrogation: "This is a profound attack on press freedoms and the news gathering process,To detain my partner for a full nine hours while denying him a lawyer, and then seize large amounts of his possessions, is clearly intended to send a message of intimidation to those of us who have been reporting on the NSA and GCHQ. The actions of the UK pose a serious threat to journalists everywhere. But the last thing it will do is intimidate or deter us in any way from doing our job as journalists. Quite the contrary: it will only embolden us more to continue to report aggressively." A spokesperson for the Guardian said that they were dismayed that Miranda had been detained and for so long. The newspaper had paid for Miranda's flight to Berlin. The paper was seeking clarification from UK authorities.
The Home Office has so far said nothing but Labour MP Tom Watson expressed shock at the news and wanted to know if any government ministers were involved in the decision. He found it almost impossible to think that Miranda could be a terror suspect.
Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act allows police broad powers to stop and search people without any prior authorization or even reasonable suspicion about the person being stopped. There is no automatic right of those stopped to get legal advice but it is a criminal offence to refuse to cooperate with the questioning. This sounds very much as the type of law one would expect in a police state. The government's idea of reforming this law is to reduce the detention period to a maximum of six hours.
The incident has had immediate repercussions in Brazil-UK relations. The Brazilian government issued a statement saying: "This measure is without justification since it involves an individual against whom there are no charges that can legitimate the use of that legislation. The Brazilian government expects that incidents such as the one that happened to the Brazilian citizen today are not repeated."
A spokesperson for Amnesty International also said: "It is utterly improbable that David Michael Miranda, a Brazilian national transiting through London, was detained at random, given the role his partner has played in revealing the truth about the unlawful nature of NSA surveillance.David's detention was unlawful and inexcusable. He was detained under a law that violates any principle of fairness and his detention shows how the law can be abused for petty, vindictive reasons.
There is simply no basis for believing that David Michael Miranda presents any threat whatsoever to the UK government. The only possible intent behind this detention was to harass him and his partner, Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, for his role in analysing the data released by Edward Snowden."
While the action may be unlawful and inexcusable this is all justified as preventing the release of documents that show that spying agencies are engaged in behavior that is also unlawful and inexcusable. Excuse me, I forgot, anything is lawful and excusable in the war on terror and to protect us.
Greenwald spoke of the interrogation as a profound escalation of attacks on journalists and news gathering: "It's bad enough to prosecute and imprison sources. It's worse still to imprison journalists who report the truth. But to start detaining the family members and loved ones of journalists is simply despotic". According to Greenwald, Miranda was not questioned about anything related to terrorism but about the NSA reporting which Laura Poitras, the Guardian and Greenewald are doing, as well as the content of the electronic products he was carrying. No doubt they will examine those contents at their leisure and without having the bother of getting permission from anyone to do so.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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