Chilling Effects: UK Police Admit To Investigating Journalists For Covering Snowden Leaks

from the freedom-of-the-press? dept

Remember back when UK law enforcement detained David Miranda while he passing through Heathrow airport for nine hours, under an anti-terrorism law, claiming that journalism could be terrorism? Apparently, UK law enforcement is really doubling down on that claim, with the new admission that there is an ongoing and open criminal investigation into the reporters who have published Snowden documents.

As you recall, the first such documents were obtained and published by Glenn Greenwald, an American living in Brazil but working for the UK’s Guardian newspaper. There had been a number of bizarre reports about just how far UK law enforcement wanted to go to intimidate journalists from reporting on such leaks in the future — even forcing the Guardian to physically destroy a laptop that had the Snowden documents for no good reason other than security theater.

But that kind of intimidation has been taken up a notch. Greenwald’s new publication, the Intercept, has been engaged in an ongoing Freedom of Information battle with the Metropolitan Police Service in the UK to find out if that organization is investigating journalists, and the police have finally confirmed that they are, in fact, investigating journalists, though it only does so obliquely, but “confirming” that “it continues to conduct an investigation into the events as described above” (with the “above” being the details laid out in the Freedom of Information request).

Of course, it doesn’t appear that the reporters actually did anything wrong, and thus it seems fairly clear that the entire reason for the investigation is to create chilling effects for journalists who might publish such stories in the future and to harass those who published them in the past. The current UK government’s continued move to use Orwell’s 1984 as a guidebook, rather than a warning sign, is really reaching ridiculous levels.

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Comments on “Chilling Effects: UK Police Admit To Investigating Journalists For Covering Snowden Leaks”

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22 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Subversive acts

“But if your ultimate goal is power, how best to use such a weapon? It is at this point in our story that along comes a spider. He is a man seemingly without a conscience; for whom the ends always justify the means and it is he who suggests that their target should not be an enemy of the country but rather the country itself.” – V for Vendetta

Anonymous Coward says:

is really reaching ridiculous levels...

Sorry Mike…

We actually are already past ridiculous levels.

We are now just sitting around figuring out how long ‘We The People’ will tolerate it before something is done.

‘We The People’ have proven to have a shockingly short memory span and a strong tolerance for political & legal mischief or just flat out treason as well.

We reap what we sow! UK is the same as any other nation in that respect.

Roger Strong (profile) says:

This would never happen in America, because....

“The security of the Nation is not at the ramparts alone, Security also lies in the value of our free institutions. A cantankerous press, an obstinate press, a ubiquitous press must be suffered by those in authority in order to preserve the even greater values of freedom of expression and the right of the people to know.”

– U.S. District Judge Murray Gurfein, 1971, regarding the Pentagon Papers

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: This would never happen in America, because....

was that supposed to be satire?

Biographical Directory of Federal Judges
Gurfein, Murray Irwin

Born November 17, 1907, in New York, NY
Died December 16, 1979, in New York, NY

Federal Judicial Service:
Judge, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York
Nominated by Richard M. Nixon on April 14, 1971 …

Professional Career:

U.S. Army lieutenant colonel, Office of Strategic Services, 1942-1946
Assistant, Hon. Robert H. Jackson, chief U.S. prosecutor, Nuremberg Trials, 1945

Roger Strong (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: This would never happen in America, because....

Also, from Wikipedia:

In 1971, President Richard M. Nixon appointed Gurfein as a judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. During his first week as a judge, Gurfein was assigned the Pentagon Papers case and gained national prominence when he refused the government’s motion to enjoin publication of the documents. Gurfein’s ruling was initially reversed by the Court of Appeals, but ultimately reinstated by the Supreme Court.

Daniel Ellsberg was charged in 1971 under the Espionage Act as well as for theft and conspiracy for copying the Pentagon Papers. The trial was dismissed in 1973 after evidence of government misconduct against him, including illegal wiretapping, was introduced in court.

For the two years he was under indictment, he was free to speak to the media and at rallies and public lectures.

Today, the government actions that got the case thrown out of court are legal. Today, Snowden would not be allowed out on bail. Instead, he would be in a prison cell, incommunicado, in total isolation conditions.

Yes, my post was supposed to be satire. Bitter, bitter satire.

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Therefore they cannot hide the fact that they have probably seen secret documents, or who they are.

Seeing secret documents is not a crime as far as I know. If, in its infinite wisdom, the gov’t insists it needs secrecy to carry out its assigned duties, it’s up to the gov’t to secure access to those secrets. “They” (journalists) are private citizens, unbeholden to the gov’t to carry on such secrecy for them. Their job may be at odds with the wishes of the gov’t, but we decided a long time ago that the wishes of the gov’t don’t trump the needs of a free society nor its individual members of it.

If the gov’t doesn’t like this, we can renegotiate the deal, which will involve a lot of messy things they will prefer to see even less than their secrets getting out, such as them hanging from meathooks in the town square. That’s not a threat; just an observation based on historical events. They need to decide how far they want to push and how much it’s worth to get what they want.

Whose gov’t are they?

Anonymous Coward says:

that’s the problem when you have megalomaniacs in a government, particularly at it’s head, when it is trying to do things that ‘it’s best friend’ has been found out to be doing and stopped! like so many things that have happened in the past, the UK is so far out of touch with the people, the world, progress and the people, it shoots itself in both feet every time it does something! and when the head of that government is so hell-bent on being a dictator, without anyone supposedly noticing, is absolutely stupid! you only have to look at how he has condemned China etc for their lack of Human Rights and outrageous removal of freedom and privacy, and he is a damn site worse! what a fucking hypocrite!!

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Once upon a time

Fascism happened.

They needed to fall back on fascism to end the War On Drugs. Nothing else was working, and they were (and still are) losing it. It was serendipitous for them that the War On Terror happened to justify their new choice of methods.

Long term, they still won’t win, and it’ll be very messy for everyone including themselves until they recognize this. Prohibition doesn’t work! We all know this.

GEMont (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Once upon a time

It was serendipitous…

Some might say it was really good planning.

Unless of course, they’re among the crowd that believes that Tycoon and Drug Lord Billionaires, like Billionaire and Millionaire Politicians and Lawyers, are utterly incompetent idiots who could never in a million years plan and execute anything remotely like a conspiracy to fool the public for fun and profit, successfully, even with the availability of the nearly unlimited wealth of the entire tax-payer windfall of the USA, Great Britain, Canada, New Zealand and Australia at their disposal.

Nope. Musta bin serendipity…. 🙂

GEMont (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Once upon a time

…fall back on fascism to end the War On Drugs…

Some might say that they needed to create The War on Drugs to allow them to end democracy and initiate fascism in its place… you know, that old New World Order thing that totally depends on all governments of the world obeying a single leader group…

“All your law are belong to us.”

But then we already covered why that simply cannot be in the last post – right. 🙂

Yes, I know I'm commenting anonymously says:

It is way too difficult for the police to book results when going after terorists. They need results to feel important. In the states, they instigate and bust their own plots and in England they chose to target journalists. Both are much easier to achieve.

Both also ignore the ineffectiveness of these approaches and the undesireable side-effects, but that is politics.

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