UK Man Gets 12-Month Sentence For Refusing To Turn Over Passwords To Police

from the privacy:-the-new-terrorism dept

Here's how you can become a terrorist without actually participating in anything terror-related. Just hang out in the UK with locked devices until law enforcement develops an interest in you.

A director of a Muslim advocacy group has been convicted of failing to hand over passwords for an iPhone and a laptop, which he said contained sensitive information from a torture victim.

Muhammad Rabbani, 36, from London, was found guilty but walked free after being handed a 12-month conditional discharge at Westminster magistrates' court on Monday. He was ordered to pay £600 in costs.

The police may have failed to sweat passwords out of Rabbani during last November's three-hour detention, but they were instrumental in getting him charged under the UK's terrorism laws. Rabbani will be serving the UK equivalent of a suspended sentence. No jail unless "further violations" occur. This means all police have to do is stop him somewhere else and demand his passwords. Any refusal to do so will be a violation of his conditional discharge.

Unlike the US, there's no question of potential rights violations to be resolved. The UK's anti-terror laws enable this sort of law enforcement behavior. Rabbani said he had sensitive information on his devices he didn't feel comfortable sharing with police, especially when they had little reason to suspect him of being up to anything terroristic.

Rabbani is apparently investigating a torture case linked to the US, involving a citizen in one of the Brown Countries (a.k.a., a Gulf state). His trips back and forth have been greeted with much consternation and demands for device passwords. But it wasn't until last November UK law enforcement finally decided to move ahead with charges.

The court handing down the sentence was almost apologetic.

In sentencing, senior district judge Emma Arbuthnot said she believed Rabbani was protecting sensitive information but was bound by the law to find him guilty.

This is why bad bills should never be made law. They force people -- like judges -- to sentence someone for the crime of being uncooperative. Testimony during the case didn't clear anything up. The officer who performed the attempted search and actual arrest wouldn't say whether he was acting on specific information about Rabbani, or simply hassling someone UK police had hassled several times before without feeling the need to turn it into a terrorism case.

Passwords/pins are a foregone conclusion in the UK if the court can be convinced law enforcement demands were somehow related to national security. That's how the 2000 terrorism law was designed. And with Rabbani, we're being shown how it works.


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  • identicon
    Yes, I know I'm commenting anonymously, 26 Sep 2017 @ 3:52am

    In sentencing, senior district judge Emma Arbuthnot said she believed Rabbani was protecting sensitive information but was bound by the law to find him guilty.

    This is where a good constitution functions as a failsafe. It allows the judge to instruct parliament to bring the terrorism-law in concord and discharge the suspect.

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

    • icon
      Roger Strong (profile), 26 Sep 2017 @ 4:42am

      Re:

      Unfortunately such good constitutions are hard to find. The US constitution failed to stop the US from being turned into a torture state, and failed to punish those who did it. And failed to release those STILL being held without trial well over a decade later.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 26 Sep 2017 @ 4:55am

        Re: Re:

        Now it is trying to convince us that there is a border area where the constitution doesn't apply. I'm not sure about you, but if I have a government pretending it doesn't have to follow the law, it is time for a new government.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 26 Sep 2017 @ 6:23am

          Re: Re: Re:

          People are cowards and tend to suffer that which is easily sufferable. It takes a long train of usurpations and injustices to even wake people up, and THEN you will see them back pedal, worm and squirm, all while saying... "this was not my fault"?

          That's right folks... none of this is your fault. Every time someone got fucked by the legal system as we all stood by and re-voted in the exact same bastards that made it or allowed it to happen.

          Like Obama said, "you get the politicians you deserve"!

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 26 Sep 2017 @ 8:10am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            "That's right folks... none of this is your fault."

            and yet you continue to wag your finger at them
            this implies your above statement was intended to be sarcastic, is this the case?


            "re-voted in the exact same bastards"
            and gerrymandering has nothing to do with it ... you voted for them ... all of you did , every last one

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 26 Sep 2017 @ 9:06am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Every time someone got fucked by the legal system as we all stood by and re-voted in the exact same bastards that made it or allowed it to happen.

            Speak for yourself, as not everybody votes for the major parties, just not enough of us yet.

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

            • icon
              JoeCool (profile), 26 Sep 2017 @ 10:28am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Yep, I've voted third-party for more than 20 years... when there's a third party to vote for. In some districts, the Gerrymandering is so bad there's no other candidates! At all!! Crazy that some places, one party runs unopposed. In cases like that, I abstain as no state I've lived in has a none-of-the-above option.

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

            • identicon
              Cowardly Lion, 27 Sep 2017 @ 12:13am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              If the politicians weren't such craven cowards there would be on each ballot card an option for conscientious objectors to tick *"non of the above"*.

              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/None_of_the_above

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

          • identicon
            Cowardly Lion, 26 Sep 2017 @ 11:56pm

            Quotes doth not maketh man right

            "Like Obama said, "you get the politicians you deserve"!"

            Yeah, well, you know, that's just, like, his opinion, man.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 27 Sep 2017 @ 1:40pm

        Re: Re:

        Not to mention that if he wasn't a terrorist before that sentence, he could easily become one while incarcerated with a bunch of Brits being denied Tea time..

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

    • icon
      Bergman (profile), 27 Sep 2017 @ 7:00pm

      Re:

      This sort of thing is why I often (resulting in cries of outrage) point out to people that most countries don't have protected human rights, they have guidelines that their government is free to ignore.

      Tell someone he is free long enough and often enough, and he'll get pretty militant against anyone telling him he's not. The USA isn't immune to this, but at least we have actual laws protecting rights that don't have automatic built-in national security waivers.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Sep 2017 @ 3:58am

    12 months is shorter than forever, like the US case.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Sep 2017 @ 6:26am

      Re:

      Oh yes, that's the ticket!

      You are hardly being treated poorly, take for example my friend here, who was beaten bloody! You should feel like royalty with just a punch to the face and a broken tooth!

      Don't get mad, get GLAD!

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

  • icon
    TheResidentSkeptic (profile), 26 Sep 2017 @ 4:05am

    At least it needs a Password/Pin

    And this is why a "facial recognition" unlock feature is BAD. The authorities would just grab the phone, point it at you (while you are being "gently" restrained...) and have full access.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Sep 2017 @ 4:29am

      Re: At least it needs a Password/Pin

      Which is why they have the cop button

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

      • icon
        JoeCool (profile), 26 Sep 2017 @ 10:31am

        Re: Re: At least it needs a Password/Pin

        Can you push it fast enough before they take it away? They see you start tapping the button, they'll take it away as you're clearly a terrorist trying to hide the evidence. It wouldn't surprise me if LEOs tried to push laws against locking a phone like that.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Sep 2017 @ 8:42am

      Re: At least it needs a Password/Pin

      Close your eye's, it then doesn't work! If the police can hold your head in place to get a scan, then can just as easily hold your finger on a scanner.

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

  • identicon
    DONT BE STUPID BE EDUCATED, 26 Sep 2017 @ 4:12am

    better

    and add my crime boss grabs you and "gently" restraines you and .....

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

  • identicon
    Bernard B, 26 Sep 2017 @ 4:24am

    Rabbani will be serving the UK equivalent of a suspended sentence.

    A conditional discharge is not the same as a suspended sentence. A discharge indicates that the court finds that the crime has been committed but further punishment is not appropriate at that time. Fines can still be imposed, however.

    A conditional discharge is among the lightest possible sentences available to the court for the least serious of offences, and does not represent a criminal conviction unless a further breach of the discharge occurs.

    Suspended sentences are much more serious and should be considered equivalent to custodial sentences, simply that the offender is not sent to prison to serve that time unless they commit further offences within a prescribed period of time.

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

    • identicon
      Cowardly Lion, 27 Sep 2017 @ 12:04am

      Re:

      If I remember correctly, failure to disclose your passwords under the UK's RIP (the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000) could bring about a maximum prison term of 5 years. So kudos to the judge for having at least some common sense.

      I'm a little disappointed though that Rabbani was fined £600 (nearly $1000). That seems excessive; it's as though they want to put the costs of the trial on him. And that's unfair.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 27 Sep 2017 @ 2:36am

        Re: Re:

        Five years is only for cases of child sex abuse, child pornography, and everything else pertaining to children.

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

      • identicon
        Bernard B, 27 Sep 2017 @ 7:38am

        Re: Re:

        He was prosecuted under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000 (one of at least 14 different pieces of wide-ranging anti-terror legislation passed in England since 2000).

        Fortunately, the maximum sentence is only(!) 3 months imprisonment.

        Unfortunately, it is also a terrible piece of legislation that gave too much power the police to stop and detain 'suspects' and 'evidence'. (Subsequently somewhat modified by other legislation.)

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Sep 2017 @ 4:31am

    These laws will just be used to catch bona fide terrorists. They will never be used for other purposes, we promise!

    /s

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

  • icon
    Zgaidin (profile), 26 Sep 2017 @ 5:13am

    Compel?

    "The officer who performed the attempted search and actual arrest wouldn't say whether he was acting on specific information about Rabbani, or simply hassling someone UK police had hassled several times before without feeling the need to turn it into a terrorism case."

    Wtf does this even mean? Can the judge not compel the officer to answer the question? He's not a reporter that gets to protect his sources. He's a law enforcement officer presenting evidence for the prosecution. If he can't or won't specify that there a) was evidence, and b) where he got it, then there isn't any evidence. Right?

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Sep 2017 @ 6:35am

      Re: Compel?

      "He's not a reporter that gets to protect his sources."

      Does the UK actually have these protections? The media is regulated in the UK, which means they have zero freedom. They only have Privileges granted by government.

      "He's a law enforcement officer presenting evidence for the prosecution."

      Then he has done his job, they don't care much about its veracity... the problem is for your defense lawyer to sort out. Judges and Cops are often good friends, you will quickly find they have each others back and generally look the other way when one is abusing their position.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Sep 2017 @ 10:17am

      Re: Compel?

      Wtf does this even mean? Can the judge not compel the officer to answer the question? He's not a reporter that gets to protect his sources. He's a law enforcement officer presenting evidence for the prosecution. If he can't or won't specify that there a) was evidence, and b) where he got it, then there isn't any evidence. Right?

      The evidence was that he asked someone for the password and they refused to provide it. That's all that's required to convict under this law. The judge might be able to compel an answer, but can't do anything with it. (We'll, they could, but that would require the courage to hold a law as unjust... which is evidently rare.)

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Sep 2017 @ 5:22am

    what law , cops dont need ot follow no stinkin laws

    muhahaha

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 Sep 2017 @ 1:59pm

      Re: what law , cops dont need ot follow no stinkin laws

      I could have easily knocked out all four swat team members when they came for me. I let one of them twist my fingers and hand. I let another one force the blood back into my brain and crush my throat. I let a third ram a butt stock of an ar-15 into my forehead all because this stinkin bitch accused me of hitting her. They stole my firearms and ammo before I had been charged officially of anything. Then the judge shoved the Brady bill up my arse. I find out later after having been tortured in jail not sleeping a wink in jail for 12 days it was because they thought I had fired my firearm off in town.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Sep 2017 @ 6:41am

    This is why we need a master delete reset phone to bone stock configuration password .
    Sure officer here you go password 1234 ......
    what ???? you mean there's nothing on my phone ?
    Sorry what were you detaining me for again ?

    So sorry you have nothing to hold me on .
    thanks have a good day
    bye bye

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Sep 2017 @ 7:20am

      Re:

      Great idea, if you want to be charged with destruction of evidence!

      Because if such an option existed you would be guilty of using it ( in the LEO's mind ) whenever they did not find what they wanted.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 26 Sep 2017 @ 8:15am

        Re: Re:

        Yeah ... there was no evidence found on your phone and therefore you must've deleted it because we know you're guilty just by looking at you, you are under arrest for destruction of something we can not prove existed in the first place. Welcome to land of the fee and home of the slave

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

    • identicon
      Michael, 26 Sep 2017 @ 7:21am

      Re:

      And the penalty for destruction of evidence?

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

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 26 Sep 2017 @ 7:33am

    When the "good guys" become tyrants.

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

  • icon
    orbitalinsertion (profile), 26 Sep 2017 @ 7:51am

    Clearly, fining people ~800 spacebucks will put a halt to terrorism. What's not to like?

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

  • identicon
    Rekrul, 26 Sep 2017 @ 12:59pm

    This is why bad bills should never be made law. They force people -- like judges -- to sentence someone for the crime of being uncooperative.

    That's a feature, not a bug.

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

  • identicon
    Personanongrata, 26 Sep 2017 @ 1:09pm

    Morally Reprehensible

    UK Man Gets 12-Month Sentence For Refusing To Turn Over Passwords To Police

    Muhammad Rabbani and his refusal To Turn Over Passwords To Police has exposed the British Crown for what it has become a collection of petty authoritarians willing to arbitrarily destroy a persons life in order to further empower the state (ie themselves) under the guise of protecting you.

    What the world needs are more persons of Muhammad Rabbani's caliber; those who are willing to stand and deny the morally reprehensible lickspittles of the state their demands.

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

  • identicon
    Alice, 27 Sep 2017 @ 3:08am

    All Your Password Are Belong To Us...

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Sep 2017 @ 12:18pm

    War against whistle blowing.

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


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