Britain’s High Court has quashed a legal challenge against the detention under anti-terrorism laws of the partner of Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who brought leaks from former U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden to world attention.
David Miranda had appealed against his detention and nine-hour questioning under anti-terrorism legislation last August when he landed at London’s Heathrow Airport en route from Berlin to Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.
British authorities seized items from Miranda which they said included electronic media containing 58,000 documents from the U.S. National Security Agency, Snowden’s former employer, and from its British counterpart, Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ).
The High Court ruled on Wednesday that the detention of the partner of the ex-Guardian newspaper reporter was lawful.
“In my judgment the Schedule 7 (of the Terrorism Act) stop was a proportionate measure in the circumstances,” said Judge John Laws.
“Its objective was not only legitimate, but very pressing.”
The ruling also criticized Greenwald’s evidence that journalists share with government the responsibility to decide what should not be published to protect national security.
“Journalists have no such constitutional responsibility,” the ruling said.
“The journalist will have his own take or focus on what serves the public interest, for which he is not answerable to the public through Parliament.”
Miranda’s lawyers said they had applied for permission to appeal against the decision and that journalists were now finding alternative ways to protect material when travelling through Britain.
“We look forward to the Court of Appeal considering the fundamentally important legal issues raised in our appeal in due course,” said Gwendolen Morgan.
“Whilst the courts consider our appeal, we understand that journalists are making alternative travel plans to safeguard their material, sources and confidential working systems when they have to travel via the UK.”
(Reporting By Costas Pitas; editing by Stephen Addison)
We’ve seen various government officials act in all sorts of bizarre ways after revelations of illegal spying on their own people (and foreigners), but none may be quite as bizarre as the response from the Canadian government, following the release late…
[Image via ABC News]
Glenn Greenwald, the civil rights attorney and journalist who helped reveal evidence that the U.S. was spying on its citizens and allies, said it’s crucial to safeguard the civil liberties of American Muslims to ensure the rights of all Americans.
Greenwald, who published a series of articles based on documents provided by former National Security Administration contractor Edward Snowden, served as the keynote speaker Nov. 16 at the annual “Faith in Freedom” banquet hosted by the Los Angeles chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
He spoke to the group by video, rather than in person, citing concerns about possible attempts by American officials to prosecute him for his journalistic work.
Greenwald also noted reports, columns and statement issued by groups who questioned his ties to CAIR, portraying his speech as a “propaganda coup” for a group that some right-wing critics have described as having ties to terrorist organizations.
“What really makes me genuinely, in all seriousness, happy about those kind of reactions is that it just underscores for me the kind of demonization that American Muslims are routinely subjected to, even to this day,” Greenwald said.
He said CAIR protects the foundational political values of the United States by standing up for Muslims who are singled out for persecution, saying that each period in history where rights have been eroded had a specific group targeted as a threat to security.
“Always, certain marginalized groups are targeted for these abuses in the first instance, whether they be Native Americans or African-Americans or women or communists in the 1950s or Latinos in the immigration debate, and now American Muslims in the wake of 9/11,” Greenwald said.
He said totalitarian states rely on indifference to continue civil rights abuses.
“They want people to believe that as long as these abuses stay confined to one specific, marginalized minority group, then there’s no reason to object to them and there’s lots of reasons to support these abuses,” Greenwald said.
That’s not just morally twisted, he said, but it endangers everyone’s freedoms.
“Abuses of liberties never stay confined to the single group to which they’re originally applied,” Greenwald said. “They always spread far beyond the original application, and by allowing it to happen to American Muslims, now we allow civil liberties of all Americans to be degraded and threatened and jeopardized.”
Watch this video of Greenwald’s speech posted online by CAIR LA:
Unmanned: America’s Drone Wars investigates the impact of U.S. drone strikes at home and abroad through more than 70 separate interviews, including a former American drone operator who shares what he has witnessed in his own words, Pakistani families mourning loved ones and seeking legal redress, investigative journalists pursuing the truth, and top military officials warning against blowback from the loss of innocent life. Retired Army Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, Code Pink Co-founder Madea Benjamin and journalist Glenn Greenwald are among those featured.
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The detention of the partner of a former Guardian journalist has triggered fresh concerns after it emerged that a key reason cited by police for holding him under terrorism powers was the belief that he was promoting a “political or ideological cause”.
The revelation has alarmed leading human rights groups and a Tory MP, who said the justification appeared to be without foundation and threatened to have damaging consequences for investigative journalism.
David Miranda is the partner of Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who – often in collaboration with the Guardian – has broken many stories about the extent and scope of spying by the US National Security Agency. Miranda was stopped at Heathrow airport in August and held by the Metropolitan police for nine hours while on his way home to Brazil.
Miranda, it has been claimed, was carrying some 58,000 encrypted UK intelligence documents. He had spent a week in Berlin visiting a journalist, Laura Poitras, who has worked with Greenwald on many of his stories, which have been based on information leaked by the former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
Now documents referred to in court last week before a judicial review of Miranda’s detention shine new light on the Metropolitan police’s explanation for invoking terrorism powers – a decision critics have called draconian.
It became apparent during the court hearing that there were several drafts of the Port Circular Notice – the document used to request Miranda’s detention under schedule 7 to the 2000 Terrorism Act – before the final version was submitted.
The draft that was finally used states: “Intelligence indicates that Miranda is likely to be involved in espionage activity which has the potential to act against the interests of UK national security. We therefore wish to establish the nature of Miranda’s activity, assess the risk that Miranda poses to national security and mitigate as appropriate.”
The notice then went on to explain why police officers believed that the terrorism act was appropriate.
“We assess that Miranda is knowingly carrying material, the release of which would endanger people’s lives. Additionally the disclosure or threat of disclosure is designed to influence a government, and is made for the purpose of promoting a political or ideological cause. This therefore falls within the definition of terrorism and as such we request that the subject is examined under schedule 7.”
Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, said the police assessment represented a “chilling” threat to democracy. “More and more we are shocked but not surprised,” she said. “Breathtakingly broad anti-terror powers passed under the last government continue to be abused under the coalition that once trumpeted civil liberties.
“The express admission that politics motivated the detention of David Miranda should shame police and legislators alike. It’s not just the schedule 7 detention power that needs urgent overhaul, but a definition of terrorism that should chill the blood of any democrat.”
Padraig Reidy of Index on Censorship, which campaigns for free speech, said that the police’s justification for Miranda’s detention was “very dangerous” for investigative journalism. “The whole point of such journalism is to find stuff the government doesn’t want raised,” he said. “The message this gives off is ‘don’t find this sort of stuff, or you will be treated as a terrorist’.”
Greenwald was equally scathing, tweeting: “UK govt beats its mighty chest, now explicitly equates journalism with ‘terrorism’ and ‘espionage’.”
The home secretary, Theresa May, has criticised the Guardian’s decision to publish the Snowden leaks. May has said she agrees with the assessment of Andrew Parker, the head of MI5, that the newspaper had damaged Britain’s national security. But Conservative MP Dominic Raab said: “The assertion that national security has been undermined has been bandied around wildly and not explained in any cogent way.”
And he questioned the police’s handling of the Miranda affair. “If he was behaving in such a nefarious way why wasn’t he arrested, charged and bailed?” Raab said. “If he was guilty of putting national security at risk, then why did they let him go?”
Gwendolen Morgan of Bindmans, Miranda’s solicitors, said this week’s judicial review will focus on whether the use of schedule 7 was disproportionate and whether it was incompatible with the inalienable right to freedom of expression.
“We will argue that draconian counter-terrorism powers were used in our client’s case for an improper purpose,” Morgan said. “Not to determine whether our client could in any sense be considered a ‘terrorist’, but rather to retrieve potentially embarrassing journalistic material in his possession.”
The impact of Snowden’s leaks on national security is expected to be addressed this week when parliament’s intelligence and security committee will question the heads of MI6, MI5 and GCHQ in public for the first time.
U.S. security services tracked 60 million telephone calls in Spain in a single month, according to leaked document published Monday in a leading Spanish newspaper.
The National Security Agency tracked the origin and destination of calls and their duration, U.S. blogger Glenn Greenwald said in a story in El Mundo, which published a classified graph of 30 days of telephone call tracing.
Brazil-based US reporter Glenn Greenwald said Wednesday he would publish documents from intelligence leaker Edward Snowden focused on France and Spain.
Greenwald, a Rio-based correspondent for Britain’s Guardian newspaper, also said that if Brazil wanted more data on alleged US snooping into its affairs it should offer Snowden asylum.
Snowden, a former US spy agency contractor wanted by Washington, is currently at an unknown location in Russia after Moscow granted him temporary asylum.
Brazil did not respond to a Snowden request for asylum as he sought refuge following his first explosive disclosures detailing the US government’s digital dragnet.
Testifying before a Brazilian congressional panel, Greenwald accused Washington and its allies of waging a “war against journalism and the process of transparency.”
“I am learning now that the United States is using this surveillance system to punish the journalistic process,” said Greenwald, who, without elaborating, added he was working on material relating to France and Spain.
“We are undertaking high-risk journalism. We shall continue doing so until we publish the last document I have,” Greenwald told senators investigating allegations that Washington spied on Brasilia.
“I am not holding onto relevant documents nor hiding information. All that I had regarding surveillance against Brazil, and now France — I am working with French and Spanish newspapers — I publish. I don’t hold onto it,” he said in Portuguese.
Greenwald said governments, including Brazil’s, appeared to be grateful for the disclosure of alleged US spying on them “but they are not disposed to protect the person who passes on the data.”
“If the government wants information it should protect him so he is at liberty to work,” Greenwald said.
“He has very limited scope to speak and runs the risk of the United States capturing him.”
When he testified before the Brazilian Senate’s foreign relations committee in August, Greenwald said he had personally received thousands of documents from Snowden while in Hong Kong with the fugitive.
On Wednesday, as Brazil announced it would host an Internet governance summit next year, Greenwald said: “Every time I found a document I thought ought to be published I immediately started working on it as quickly as possible to inform the public.”
He added he was in almost daily contact with Snowden.
The documents released so far appear to show that the US National Security Agency intercepted Brazilian government communications, those of state-run energy giant Petrobras, as well as phone calls and emails of millions of Brazilians.
The disclosures led Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff to slam the United States in an address to the United Nations last month and scrap a planned state visit to Washington.
Citing evidence that even messages from her own office were monitored, Rousseff called the alleged spying a violation of international law.
The row deepened with allegations Sunday that Canada, a very close US ally, also spied on Brazil’s energy ministry.
Canada has mining interests in this huge, resource-rich Latin American country.