UK Gov't: David Miranda Might Be A Terrorist Because Journalism Can Be Terrorism; Also: We Had No Idea He Was A Journalist

from the huh? dept

Following the initial argument that Glenn Greenwald’s partner, David Miranda, was detained for nine hours at Heathrow under an anti-terrorism law because he might be a terrorist, it appears that the UK government is doubling down on this argument. The Miranda case was in court today, with the UK government arguing that publishing the documents Ed Snowden leaked “is capable of being an act of terrorism.” Yes, the UK has declared that journalism can be an act of terrorism. The Metropolitan Police further argue that Miranda was engaged in espionage, first saying that they stopped Miranda because the Security Service had alerted them that Miranda was “likely to be involved in espionage activity.”

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 poses to UK national security and mitigate as appropriate. We are requesting that you exercise your powers to carry out a ports stop against MIRANDA.

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.

Now here’s where it gets even more bizarre. When confronted by the issue of human rights and the right to free expression, the UK government is arguing that didn’t apply because didn’t know he was involved in journalism.

The exercise of powers in this case did not engage either Article 10 ECHR [European Convention on Human Rights] or the protections accorded to journalistic material under Schedule 5 to TACT [Terrorism Act 2000] because (a) the MPS did not know or believe that Mr Miranda had acquired the material for the purposes of journalism; and (b) Mr Miranda did not when questioned claim to be a journalist or to be carrying the material on behalf of anyone else who was a journalist or to have acquired the material for the purposes of journalism.

So, let’s get this straight. The UK is arguing (1) that it knew enough that Miranda was carrying the Snowden documents, such that they believed he might help them get published and that’s terrorism, but (2) they had no idea he might be involved in journalism, so there was no human rights issue.

Anyone else notice a problem with these two lines of thought? Acts of journalism may be acts of terror, and the UK government can stop it… if they don’t know it’s journalism.

Clearly, the UK government is lying. They knew what Miranda was doing, because that’s how they knew he had documents on him. To then claim they had no idea he was engaged in journalism is impossible to believe. Hopefully the court recognizes just how insane this claim is.

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Comments on “UK Gov't: David Miranda Might Be A Terrorist Because Journalism Can Be Terrorism; Also: We Had No Idea He Was A Journalist”

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Anonymous Coward says:

GCHQ had no idea who David Miranda was? Yeah right. Didn’t GCHQ contact the NSA to inform them they were detaining Miranda for questioning?

Seems like they knew who he was, and what he was doing, and for whom he was doing it for!

Lying bastards, every thing one of them! This is why Governments are losing credibility in the public’s eyes.

Duke (profile) says:

Re: Re:

GCHQ knew who he was. But they’re not involved.

The first quote is the statement from MI5, and makes no reference to him being a journalist.

The second quote is about what the the Police believed (completely different group), who had the information in that form given to them from MI5. Thus is it perfectly possible that they didn’t know that he may have been connected to journalism at the time. And as (according to the police) Miranda didn’t make that claim to them, plus he denied that he was carrying any documents etc. for anyone else, they had no reason to believe he was a journalist.

Plus, when the second quote was given, there was no evidence before the Court to the contrary (as there was no witness statement from Miranda).

So this may not lying. Nor nearly as crazy as it sounds.

DogBreath says:

Re: Re: Re:

So, they are playing the old “plausible deniability” game.

Sort of like saying “I can’t be denying anyone of their rights if I don’t tell those that are detaining or arresting said person all the details of such detainment or arrest.” Or, in the immortal words of Bart Simpson: “I didn’t do it. Nobody saw me do it. You can’t prove anything.”

Good thing David Miranda wasn’t clenching his buttocks too tightly, or he may have been given a few free cavity searches.

Duke (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Reading some of what was said in Court today, there seems to have been a “firewall” between different groups. The Security Services told a senior police officer about the national security issue, and then he told some junior officers to carry out the detention, with a list of things to ask about that didn’t give too much away.

I think this may have been a policy shift due to a case from a year or so ago when there wasn’t a “firewall” and the Court ruled the stop was illegal because the people knew the guy was a terrorist (and thus couldn’t question him for the purpose of working out if he was a terrorist).

So they’re using this firewall thing to get around the limited purpose of the detention power. Which I hope the Court will not appreciate…

DogBreath says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

I think this may have been a policy shift due to a case from a year or so ago when there wasn’t a “firewall” and the Court ruled the stop was illegal because the people knew the guy was a terrorist (and thus couldn’t question him for the purpose of working out if he was a terrorist).

Wow. Obfuscation by intentionally firewalling information between law enforcement groups. Where the ultimate in ignorance can be the legitimate and legal excuse for detaining someone.

Today, they just replace “terrorist” with “journalist”, or anything else they don’t like.

Anonymous Coward says:

so who is behind this crock of crap then? i dare say the person concerned is just as gutless as the rest of them that are in charge of ‘security’, good at throwing out orders but shit scared of actually doing anything themselves!
we are heading into deep crap guys, with this sort of thing being not just allowed but encouraged, all to do two things.
a) prove the point that the person giving orders can get whatever he/she wants done
b) nothing and no one is safe, regardless!

Rapnel (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Hm. Yes, there clearly remains a prevailing school of thought that national security is above the law, any law, save perhaps physics but they’re working on those too.

The only mechanism I can immediately think of that could possibly reduce the influence of this school is digital communications, communications that enable people to communicate and interact with each other allowing them to better understand their world. It would seem that only then can the machines of war and control, and their all too human repercussions, be removed from the priority lists.

Yet, as we all observe the dwindling security of nature and all of its resources that surround us my worry is that the Internet came too late and if it is not too late it is definitely on a dangerous path to becoming the next and greatest security tool.

Authority and Terrorism go together hand-in-hand. How could they not? For the rule of law to prevail in securing a human destiny, if any, then authority and terrorism must be separated and only then can a person be free. When authority can make or interpret its own laws and arm itself accordingly there will be terror, of one and of many.

Close like a hand grenade but it still wont count. (Ironic.) All tools lead to Rome. (Punny.) Meow. (Kitty.)

Anonymous Coward says:

to get the courts to agree with them, all the UK government needs to do is throw in the ‘copyright infringement’ bit and they will be home and dry!. there isn’t one thing that has been ‘requested’ by the BPI and others that the courts haven’t fallen over themselves to endorse! the amount of censorship going on in the UK is becoming rife, as are the ridiculous excuses used. this episode is no different. a plot straight out of Hollywood!

Jasmine Charter (user link) says:

5th of November

Sadly, the 5th of November passed without citizens rising up and demanding political reform.

The fact is, most people are sheep who have been lulled into a stupor by the piping of TV, videos games and sports – basically the modern day equivalent of the Roman’s gladiatorial games.

No one will rise up – unless they take those things away. Even then, they are so lethargic that perhaps that wouldn’t even wake them.

Besides… when the government becomes the terrorists – what do the terrorists become – freedom fighters?

Anonymous Coward says:

Breaking news about David Cameron!

Breaking news!

I have some pictures that show that UK prime minister David Cameron doing some wild sex acts with multiple women who aren’t his wife! It’s sure to be the scandal of the century once I publish the pictures!

Only, I won’t be publishing the pictures, because then David Cameron (or perhaps I should say ‘Diaper David’, if you know what I mean) would declare me a terrorist!

After all, we all know that it was that evil terrorist Osama Bin Laden who first published evidence of Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky while he was president!

Bobbins (profile) says:

The way these terrorism laws are being interpreted coupled with Cameron’s ruthless approach to censorship is doing more damage to the UK than any terrorist cell could ever realistically achieve.

It’s alarming that UK politicians and senior civil servants will employ any mechanism available to ensure their own self preservation even if it is achieved through oppression.

Duke (profile) says:

Legal arguments don't always make sense out of context...

tl;dr: This is a legal argument, it shouldn’t be read as anything else. Legal arguments sometimes sound crazy because they are based on specific legal definitions or the evidence before the Court.

So, let’s get this straight. The UK is arguing (1) that it knew enough that Miranda was carrying the Snowden documents, such that they believed he might help them get published and that’s terrorism, but (2) they had no idea he might be involved in journalism, so there was no human rights issue.

This is about evidence/legal stuffs. The police’s position is that Miranda never claimed to be a journalist and denied he was carrying the documents on behalf of anyone else. They’re not saying they had no idea he was connected, but that they didn’t believe he was (because, from their point of view, he was denying it).

The second strand of this is that, when the first legal arguments were made, there was no evidence before the court that Miranda was connected to journalism because Miranda hadn’t made a witness statement. So rather than the UK Government lying, they’re being a bit snarky about the fact that Miranda isn’t giving evidence in his own case. That has now been fixed given that Greenwald has been added as a party to the case and given his own witness statement.

Now the Government’s position is apparently that they don’t have a position on whether Miranda was involved in journalism, as that is for Miranda to prove if relevant (which they argue it isn’t, as even if he was, the documents weren’t “journalistic material” and even if they were, the protections for “journalistic material” don’t apply to Schedule 7 powers).

If anyone is interested, you can find the Home Office’s original defence here, the Police’s defence here and Miranda’s claim here – all with analysis from an English barrister.

Anonymous Coward says:

Notice something in common with all the attempts by each government to justify their actions. We don’t/didn’t know, terrorism, journalism doesn’t count as a reason, lies, misdirection. It all boils down to ‘we’re doing it because we want to and will justify it later’, which is why everything is so disjointed when it comes to applying valid legal reasons to do so.

None of this is about the real facts. All of it is how to make it look good after the fact. Miranda was the go between a journalist in Germany and the one in Brazil. Both the US and the UK feared what might be in those documents as they at the time did not know what Snowden had. It is not that the NSA discovered what Snowden took by back tracking, it’s through this method of seizing the documents they got a clue.

Greenwald has been pretty up front about not revealing those documents contents that would endanger lives. Crap, he’s communicated to the White House and Downing Street what he is working on or intends to publish before the release to allow both to give good reason besides ‘we don’t want that out’ for it not to be released. If it is lives at stake, you don’t see it in the releases. As he said, ‘we ignore most of the reasons not to publish’.

This is more of the cover up that has been going on and nothing has changed as far as admitting the exceeding of their authority in gathering data, legal or not.

Citizens around the world are learning if they don’t already know why it is not a good thing to put trust in government to allow it to expand it’s capabilities legally. Far too many instances of ‘because we can’ have been cropping up.

horse with no name says:

Failed logic

“So, let’s get this straight. The UK is arguing (1) that it knew enough that Miranda was carrying the Snowden documents, such that they believed he might help them get published and that’s terrorism, but (2) they had no idea he might be involved in journalism, so there was no human rights issue. “

Let’s see.

1) A non-journalist can carry documents that can be later published by a journalist. Think anything from the Post Office to Snowden himself. Was Snowden a journalist when he left the US for Hong Kong with documents? Nope. There is no requirement to be a journalist to be part of a process that leads to publication.

2) Since Miranda claimed no rights as a journalist or in any way attempted to claim such status, it’s pretty hard for the authorities to know. It’s double so because if I understand correct Miranda really isn’t a journalist as much as the gay lover of a journalist in exile.

I don’t see any issues with this at all. Miranda could have spoken up and said “I am a journalist” or “I am working as a courier for this news organization” and things might have run differently. He did not.

The problem here is that you want to give him a free pass in an “ends justifies the means” sort of a way. Transporting state secrets obtained illegally is not something that authorities can just ignore because it makes you personally feel better.

Ninja (profile) says:

Counseling for this was given by Mike Rogers. If nobody knows then it’s ok! Hopefully nobody in humanity knows when the Armageddon rains down on us. If we don’t know it won’t happening. Ignorance is a bliss!

It is amusing how journalists go from one end to the other of the law. Now Human Rights apply to them but not to the average Joe. I shall take a journalism degree alright.

david says:

Terrorism is a brutal and violent practice, but it is also a media phenomenon. Terror is vital news: a dramatic, important story that the public needs to know about and understand. But terrorism also relies on such publicity to disrupt society, provoke fear, and demonstrate power This problematic relationship predates digital technology

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