I'm sure you've seen the big story of the day: that David Miranda, Glenn Greenwald's life partner, was detained in London under provisions in British terrorism law:
The partner of the Guardian journalist who has written a series of stories revealing mass surveillance programmes by the US National Security Agency was held for almost nine hours on Sunday by UK authorities as he passed through London's Heathrow airport on his way home to Rio de Janeiro.Yes, detaining him for the maximum amount of time was gratuitous and an obvious act of attempted intimidation (and a ham-fisted one -- needless to say, it's only going to embolden Greenwald, as he's already told us in a response). But Miranda is otherwise far from alone in having to endure a stop of this kind. Here are some statistics from StopWatch (PDF):
David Miranda, who lives with Glenn Greenwald, was returning from a trip to Berlin when he was stopped by officers at 8.05am and informed that he was to be questioned under schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000. The controversial law, which applies only at airports, ports and border areas, allows officers to stop, search, question and detain individuals.
The 28-year-old was held for nine hours, the maximum the law allows before officers must release or formally arrest the individual. According to official figures, most examinations under schedule 7 -- over 97% -- last less than an hour, and only one in 2,000 people detained are kept for more than six hours.
And most people stopped are ... well, just the people you'd expect:
Ray Kelly would love this law.
It seems just plain nasty:
Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act has been widely criticised for giving police broad powers under the guise of anti-terror legislation to stop and search individuals without prior authorisation or reasonable suspicion – setting it apart from other police powers.These are the kinds of laws that shame us when the period of panic that inspires them is over. I hope we'll see the end of the current moment soon, but I'm not optimistic.
Those stopped have no automatic right to legal advice and it is a criminal offence to refuse to co-operate with questioning under schedule 7, which critics say is a curtailment of the right to silence.
Last month the UK government said it would reduce the maximum period of detention to six hours and promised a review of the operation on schedule 7 amid concerns it unfairly targets minority groups and gives individuals fewer legal protections than they would have if detained at a police station.
However, it should be noted that Miranda was clearly traveling as Greenwald's work partner, not just his life partner:
While in Berlin, Miranda had visited Laura Poitras, the US film-maker who has also been working on the Snowden files with Greenwald and the Guardian. The Guardian paid for Miranda's flights.The New York Times adds:
Mr. Miranda was in Berlin to deliver documents related to Mr. Greenwald's investigation into government surveillance to Ms. Poitras, Mr. Greenwald said. Ms. Poitras, in turn, gave Mr. Miranda different documents to pass to Mr. Greenwald. Those documents, which were stored on encrypted thumb drives, were confiscated by airport security, Mr. Greenwald said. All of the documents came from the trove of materials provided to the two journalists by Mr. Snowden.Bob Cesca says:
So Miranda, Greenwald's spouse, served as a paid courier to transfer stolen, top secret national security documents from Greenwald to Poitras, and from Poitras back to Greenwald.I don't know where to draw the line on the tension between press freedom and national security -- governments understandably want to protect national security secrets, but citizens in allegedly free countries ought to be able to know what's being done to them. On the other hand, what Greenwald, Poitras, and Co. are doing isn't terrorism. It isn't aiding and abetting terrorism. We can see that from what's been revealed.
That's ... a total debunking of any hysterical assertion that Miranda was being harassed and intimidated just because he's Greenwald's spouse. He was, in fact, detained because he was transporting stolen national secrets.
You have a reasonable suspicion that Miranda has stolen national security secrets? Get a damn warrant. Arrest him in a conventional way. Allow him legal counsel. Act like a country where people actually are free.