UK Metropolitan Police Admit They've Finally Shelved 'Investigation' Into Journalists Who Reported On Snowden Docs

from the chilling-effects dept

It’s well known that the UK doesn’t have nearly as strong press protections as the US does, but it was still somewhat shocking to discover that the Metropolitan Police in London had opened an investigation into journalists who reported on the Snowden documents back in 2013. The Metropolitan Police had refused to confirm or deny such an investigation before finally acknowledging it in 2015.

However, Ryan Gallagher now reveals that the Met Police have declared the investigation “inactive” for the time being:

The Met told me in response to a recent Freedom of Information request that the investigation is “inactive pending further information being received.” Since 2014, I’ve had several updates from the Met regarding the investigation, and this marks the first time that its status has changed from “ongoing.” In November 2017, the Met stated that it was a “complex investigation and enquiries continue.”

Even as such, this creates a huge chilling effect. It’s one thing to argue that whistleblowers revealing details of illegal surveillance should face criminal investigation and charges — it’s another thing altogether to make the same argument for journalists who are merely reporting on the details of that leaked information. Even the mere suggestion of an investigation likely has the impact of scaring off many journalists from reporting on such evidence of malfeasance and illegality by the intelligence community.

While it’s good to see that the Metropolitan Police have set the investigation to “inactive” for now, just the fact that they’re still saying it might change “pending further information being received” still serves to act as a deterrent to continued reporting in the UK.

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Comments on “UK Metropolitan Police Admit They've Finally Shelved 'Investigation' Into Journalists Who Reported On Snowden Docs”

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bobob says:

Even though the UK doesn’t have as strong protections as the US in theory and every so often, the government goes to comical lengths to put on a show to make it seem like they are really serious about things they couldn’t get away with here (in principle), like destroying the Guardian’s hardisks with snowden’s files, in practice, I think people in the UK are better off. Here, we have the FISA court which conducts secret hearings and who the fuck knows what they allow or how broadly they are willing to interpret anything to suit the FBI or whomever?

Second of all, if you run afoul of the law in the UK, their idea of sentencing is a lot less than spending life in solitary in a supermax for revealing some secret. Remember Chelsea Manning? If Obnama hadn’t commuted her sentence, she’d be in Leavenworth maximum security for 35 years.

As it is, she’s been in jail since march for refusing to testify in a grand jury hearing against Julian Assange, who isn’t in the United States, didn’t commit any crimes in the United States and isn’t a US citizen, but is being charged under United States law. Protections my ass. If you live somewhere else and do something that is illegal here, apparently lack of jurisdiction is no barrier to being charged under US law. The UK may engage in some theater and in principle, have greater authority to disregard what are supposed to be rights here, but if you believe your rights are better protected here, I think you’re only looking at what’s written on some paper that doesn’t cross the desk of law enforcement here. I think what matters more is what happens in reality.

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