Brazilian Journalist Detained By UK Border Police For Reading A Book About ISIS

from the don't-judge-a-book-by-its-cover dept

Just last week, we reported on how a British human rights activist was held at London's Heathrow airport by UK border police, and risked prison for failing to hand over his passwords. Now we learn from the Independent about a Brazilian journalist, Diogo Bercito, who was detained at Manchester airport for reading a book during his flight there:

He was reading The Isis Apocalypse, by former adviser to the US State Department on terrorism issues Will McCants. It explores the ideology of the terrorist organisation and is often used as a reference for journalists and researchers.

That seems a perfectly reasonable thing for a journalist to be reading in order to understand the background to the Manchester attack, which Bercito had been sent to cover for his employer, the Folha de São Paulo newspaper. But it was apparently enough for the border police to pull him in for questioning. His passport and press credentials were taken away, and he waited for an hour before he was interviewed. The police officers then explained exactly why Bercito had been singled out for special attention: another passenger on his flight had felt "uncomfortable" about his choice of reading matter.

To be fair, you can't really blame the Manchester border police for following up on that complaint, given the terrorist attack that had taken place in the city just 24 hours before. But it's a sad reflection of the effectiveness of the authorities' scaremongering that some members of the public feel the need to report someone because he or she was reading about ISIS. What next: reporting people to the police for watching TV reports about terrorism?

After a few questions, Bercito was allowed to continue with his journey, with the friendly warning not to read his book in public -- in case other, similarly-nervous people thought he was a terrorist -- as well as a less-friendly threat:

Mr Brecito said they then returned his passport to him, but warned that "if they wanted, they could keep him for a long time".

And they're right -- as David Miranda discovered the hard way.

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  • identicon
    Christenson, 25 May 2017 @ 12:15pm

    Headline writing....

    Headline: Police Terrorize those trying to Stop Terrorism!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 May 2017 @ 10:25am

      Re: Headline writing....

      How about "Security forces overcompensate for their massive failure from 24 hours earlier"

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 May 2017 @ 12:17pm

    I feel "uncomfortable" about visiting the UK, should I inform them of such so that they can "interview" themselves?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    PlagueSD (profile), 25 May 2017 @ 12:17pm

    Terrorism - 1
    Freedom - 0

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Jordan Chandler, 25 May 2017 @ 12:18pm

    god damn it

    I think they're just bitter over losing their empire and now any influence what-so-ever.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    TheResidentSkeptic (profile), 25 May 2017 @ 12:20pm

    Still one step ahead...

    .. so they can now arrest me for what I'm reading...

    Thank God they can't yet arrest me for what I'm *thinking*

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 25 May 2017 @ 12:22pm

      Re: Still one step ahead...

      I hear brain-scanning tech has been getting a lot better in recent years.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 25 May 2017 @ 1:52pm

      Re: Still one step ahead...

      sooooo what are you thinking?
      Just asking for an agent.... errr friend

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 25 May 2017 @ 2:33pm

      Re: Still one step ahead...

      To have the wrong thoughts is called a hate crime.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 26 May 2017 @ 5:41am

        Re: Re: Still one step ahead...

        No. To have "wrong" thoughts, is called "thought crime" and is considered a form of "precrime". I.e. You've not committed a crime, but because you are thinking of things associated with crime, we are going to preemptively charge you with a crime and lock you away.

        Such BS is not a part of any real democracy. Then again, the world seems hellbent on returning to authoritarian regimes to appease a dead man, so I'd imagine it's only a matter of time before we get thought scanners installed everywhere.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          The Wanderer (profile), 28 May 2017 @ 5:28am

          Re: Re: Re: Still one step ahead...

          Close, but not quite.

          To have "wrong" thoughts is indeed called "thought crime", but it is not "pre-crime" or "thinking of things associated with crime".

          "Thought crime" is the idea that having certain thoughts is itself a crime. It's not "you're thinking about murder, and murder is a crime, so we're going to arrest you"; it's "you're thinking that the Supreme Leader might not be perfect, and thinking that the Supreme Leader is not perfect is a crime, so we're going to arrest you".

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Bergman (profile), 25 May 2017 @ 3:21pm

      Re: Still one step ahead...

      Actually they can. And they've arrested people for it before.

      Yes, people have been arrested in the UK for their facial expressions, which according to the police there are a good way to tell what someone is thinking.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      John85851 (profile), 29 May 2017 @ 12:15pm

      Re: Still one step ahead...

      I think you're thinking about ISIS, which is making me uncomfortable, so I'm going to alert the authorities.
      But wait, if I complain that you're thinking about ISIS, that means I'm thinking about ISIS also. The authorities will arrest me too!
      But then when the arrest me, they'll be thinking about ISIS also, so they'll have to be arrested!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    z! (profile), 25 May 2017 @ 12:21pm

    I wonder how the police would treat it if I complained about someone reading the xtian bible? (Many xtians -do- make me nervous.)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 25 May 2017 @ 12:24pm

      Re:

      Just tell them the passenger was reading a book about Allah (technically correct since both Christianity and Islam worship the same god just by a different name, and they disagree on the number of prophets).

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 May 2017 @ 12:22pm

    "What next: reporting people to the police for watching TV reports about terrorism?"

    The dumb thing is that we could do with a lot less of people watching TV reports about terrorism. If people weren't watching TV reports about it, many people wouldn't even know terrorism is much of thing at all (which it isn't since it's actually quite rare). And we'd have a lot less fearful populace.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 25 May 2017 @ 3:22pm

      Re:

      You refer to the terrorism perpetrated by individuals in foreign lands, what about the terrorism perpetrated by our own people upon our people? That doesn't count?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Richard (profile), 25 May 2017 @ 12:25pm

    Any actual knowledge

    The problem here is that any actual knowledge about ISIS/islam is really adangerous to those whose entire strategy is based on a delusion.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 May 2017 @ 1:07am

      Re: Any actual knowledge

      The old saying, "know thy enemy." is only for those who are actively fighting an enemy.. all others must rely on what you are told by them.. apparently.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Richard (profile), 26 May 2017 @ 7:40am

        Re: Re: Any actual knowledge

        Sadly the people in charge of the active fighters don't have a clus - although one would hope that the grassroots ones are better informed.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 May 2017 @ 12:53pm

    Our prime ministers policies make me feel very uncomfortable, does that mean I can get the police to arrest and question her?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 May 2017 @ 1:11pm

    Humans are nuts.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Sok Puppette, 25 May 2017 @ 1:22pm

    To be fair, you can't really blame the Manchester border police for following up on that complaint, given the terrorist attack that had taken place in the city just 24 hours before.

    Yes, yes I can. It was a stupid complaint and a stupid thing to follow up on, and I don't really give a damn if the monkeys were scared that day.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 May 2017 @ 1:32pm

    Blame the police

    To be fair, you can't really blame the Manchester border police for following up on that complaint, given the terrorist attack that had taken place in the city just 24 hours before.

    Of course I can blame them, and do. Whether to detain a person based on their choice of reading material is entirely their decision, and unless it's a how-to guide on terrorism they should know it's unreasonable. Being able to act rationally in crazy circumstances is a major part of their job.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 May 2017 @ 1:35pm

    The real problem is that he was reading a book about ISIS while being brown.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 25 May 2017 @ 2:20pm

    "If we were more bored, your day would have been REALLY bad..."

    Mr Brecito said they then returned his passport to him, but warned that "if they wanted, they could keep him for a long time".

    Pity, they were doing so well until that point(other than making him wait an hour before getting to him).

    Get complaint, do simple investigation to see if there's any validity to it, see that there's none and let him go on his way. That they just couldn't resist not leaving him with a threat like that rather torpedoes the whole 'professional conduct' thing and has me suspecting that it was dumb luck on his part that he got out unscathed.

    The fact that that is not an empty threat just makes it worse.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 May 2017 @ 3:17pm

    Another reason to wipe your device before going through British customs, so they cannot find out what kinds of E-books you are reading. Since E-books are DRM-protected, wiping the phone will make them unrecoverable, since they would not be able to decipher any DRM-protected data once your device has been wiped.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 May 2017 @ 3:47pm

    journalists = terrorists
    freedom = terrorist plot
    the people = terrorists until proved innocent
    the Internet = terrorist infrastructure

    /s

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 May 2017 @ 4:39pm

    Making the UK strong!

    Since we all know ignorance is strength there.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    CharlieBrown, 25 May 2017 @ 5:18pm

    Isis Audio

    An audiobook company in the UK. I get paranoid about the government checking me out whenever I look at their website. (They have the audiobook rights to two of my favourite authors).

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 May 2017 @ 6:49pm

    They hate us for our freedom to read anything we want.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    orbitalinsertion (profile), 25 May 2017 @ 7:34pm

    Terrorists always make certain to display things that might cause them an issue. This is known as "going dark".

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 May 2017 @ 1:01am

    Not real smart to flip switches and call attention to yourself like that is it unless you're looking for trouble with the good guys? What do people expect, they are suspiicious of everything nowadays.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    DarkKnight (profile), 26 May 2017 @ 4:04am

    Really?

    Perhaps this bloke should've read this as an e-book, on his phone, making it next to impossible for anyone to clearly see what he was reading? The bloke looked "Hispanic" or "non-white" and so, that made him appear to perhaps be Middle Eastern, because let's be honest, if this had been a Donald Trump appearing bloke reading the same book, there would not have been an issue with his reading material and thus, no problem with the authorities?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    DarkKnight (profile), 26 May 2017 @ 4:04am

    Really?

    Perhaps this bloke should've read this as an e-book, on his phone, making it next to impossible for anyone to clearly see what he was reading? The bloke looked "Hispanic" or "non-white" and so, that made him appear to perhaps be Middle Eastern, because let's be honest, if this had been a Donald Trump appearing bloke reading the same book, there would not have been an issue with his reading material and thus, no problem with the authorities?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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