British court quashes legal challenge by partner of Snowden leaks reporter

LONDON Wed Feb 19, 2014 8:28am EST

David Miranda, partner of Glenn Greenwald (not seen), American journalist who first published the documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, looks on as Greenwald testifies in front of the Brazilian Federal Senate's Parliamentary Inquiry Committee, established to investigate allegations of spying by United States on Brazil, in Brasilia October 9, 2013. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino

David Miranda, partner of Glenn Greenwald (not seen), American journalist who first published the documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, looks on as Greenwald testifies in front of the Brazilian Federal Senate's Parliamentary Inquiry Committee, established to investigate allegations of spying by United States on Brazil, in Brasilia October 9, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Ueslei Marcelino

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LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's High Court has quashed a legal challenge against the detention under anti-terrorism laws of the partner of Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who brought leaks from former U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden to world attention.

David Miranda had asked the court to rule on the legality of his detention and nine-hour questioning under terrorism legislation last August when he landed at London's Heathrow Airport en route from Berlin to Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.

He had argued that such detentions would have "an inevitable chilling effect on journalistic expression".

British authorities seized items from Miranda which they said included electronic media containing 58,000 documents from the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA), Snowden's former employer, and from its British counterpart, Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ).

The High Court ruled on Wednesday that the detention of the partner of the ex-Guardian newspaper journalist was lawful and that anti-terrorism laws were correctly used.

"In my judgment the Schedule 7 (of the Terrorism Act) stop was a proportionate measure in the circumstances," said Judge John Laws.

"Its objective was not only legitimate but very pressing."

Schedule 7 allows for individuals to be stopped, detained for up to nine hours and have their items confiscated as they travel through ports and airports in order to determine whether they are involved in planning terrorist acts.

Civil liberty activists argue that certain groups such as Muslims are more likely to be stopped and Amnesty International has criticized Schedule 7 for being an "extremely broad law" that allows the abuse of individual rights due to its vagueness.

Miranda's lawyers said they had applied for permission to appeal against Wednesday's decision and that the judgment endangered journalism dealing with issues of national security.

"Journalism is currently at risk of being conflated with terrorism," said lawyer Gwendolen Morgan.

"Therefore our client has no option but to appeal."

'BRITISH WAR ON PRESS FREEDOM'

The ruling also criticized Greenwald's evidence that journalists share with government the responsibility to decide what should not be published to protect national security.

"Journalists have no such constitutional responsibility," the ruling said.

"The journalist will have his own take or focus on what serves the public interest, for which he is not answerable to the public through parliament."

Revelations by Snowden set off an international furor when he told newspapers last June that the NSA was mining the personal data of users of Google, Facebook, Skype and other U.S. companies under a secret program codenamed Prism.

Further leaks from the former NSA contractor, who faces espionage charges at home and has temporary asylum in Russia, suggested the United States had monitored phone conversations of some 35 world leaders, including Germany's Angela Merkel.

The flood of accusations prompted U.S. President Barack Obama to announce reforms in January to scale back the NSA program and to ban eavesdropping on the leaders of close friends and allies of the United States.

In Britain, a government official told the High Court last August Snowden's leaks had damaged British national security. The official said the data given to journalists included information that might expose the identities of British spies.

Home Secretary (interior minister) Theresa May welcomed Wednesday's decision and said that powers in place were fair.

"If the police believe any individual is in possession of highly sensitive stolen information that would aid terrorism, then they should act," May said in a statement.

In an online article, Greenwald, an American who now lives in Brazil, criticized the judgment and accused Britain of fearing public debate and oppressing reporters.

"It should surprise nobody that the U.K. is not merely included in, but is one of the leaders of, this group of nations which regularly wages war on basic press freedoms," he said.

(Editing by Gareth Jones)

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Comments (3)
justinoinroma wrote:
Cameron is the “boy” of the Obama administration

Feb 19, 2014 9:14am EST  --  Report as abuse
Lovetwo wrote:
“It should surprise nobody that the U.K. is not merely included in, but is one of the leaders of, this group of nations which regularly wages war on basic press freedoms,” he said.

It should surprise nobody that the government of the U.K. is not merely included in, but is one of the leaders of, this group of nations which regularly wages war on sovereign nations and the people of Our World. Terrorist is to kind of a word to describe the UK government and their al lies. These governments are psychopaths, a mere pestilence on earth, who seek to ruin God’s Creation, hence you are sunk. Judgment stayed.

Love
Omega

Feb 19, 2014 9:37am EST  --  Report as abuse
sabrefencer wrote:
reporters, run a very fine line, between story and national security..having 58000 papers that are top secret, certainly qualifies as a national security issue….snowden living in Moscow, an enemy now, under the PUTIN, dictatorship, qualifies as a spy…not a whistle blower, as so many think…if he were a whistle blower, he would have stayed, been arrested possibly and fought in our very liberal, courts…but no that didn’t happen..

Feb 19, 2014 9:44am EST  --  Report as abuse
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