For many of us, we are somewhat familiar with NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, the man who leaked information on NSA surveillance. You may be less familiar with The Guardian reporter Gleen Greenwald who has been writing about the invasive surveillance of both the NSA and the British GCHQ. Greenwald’s partner, David Miranda, was detained on Sunday Aug. 28th under Britain’s schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act of 2000, at Heathrow airport for nearly the full time allowed of nine hours.
While Heathrow authorities did admit to holding a 28 year old man from 8:05 am until 5:00 pm, there was no mention of who it was or for what reason he was being held. Upon release the authorities seised all Miranda’s personal electronics including his cell phone and laptop computer.
Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act allows any policing authority to detain, search, and confiscate from any person at a boarder, airport, or port. The provision, at this point, allows the detention of any person up to nine hours before either needing to be released or formally charged with a crime.
When schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act was passed it was meet with a lot of public scrutiny as it was seen as an over reach of policing powers. While schedule 7 has been invoked in 13 years its been law, more than 97 percent of detainees were released under an hour and only about one in 2,000 have been kept for more than six, according to official figures.
Miranda was traveling through Heathrow from Berlin on his way to his home country of Brazil, before being stopped and detained. While in Berlin Miranda visited with Laura Poitras, a US film maker who has been working with Greenwald on a film about Snowden and the NSA surveillance.
This may have been an intimidation tactic for Greenwald, intending, perhaps, to stop his reporting of the over reaching surveillance both in the UK and the US. However, if that was the intention, it seems it is having a decidedly opposite effect.
“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,” The Guardian quoted Greenwald on the incident.
Greenwald continued, “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.”
Regardless as to whether one agrees or disagrees with Edward Snowden’s actions, now that is has become known reporters have a duty to report on it. Nothing is going to fire up more coverage and talking about these issues then harassment of the press about doing their job and reporting what is happening in the world. It is definitely not grounds to detain the partner of a journalist reporting the news for almost nine hours, even if that news is not flattering to organizations like the NSA or the GCHQ.
By Iam Bloom