Regardless of your view on the rights and wrongs of Edward Snowden’s leaking of US intelligence data, the use by British Police yesterday of the Terrorism Act to hold the partner of a Guardian journalist connected to Mr Snowden seems inappropriate, disproportionate, and quite frankly wrong!
David Miranda, the partner of columnist and journalist Glenn Greenwald, was on his way from Berlin to their home in Rio de Janeiro, and was detained by officials at Heathrow, claiming he was to be questioned under schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000.
Miranda was questioned for nine hours without any access to a legal representative or any contact with his partner. On his release, security officials retained his laptop, camera, mobile phone and other electronic equipment.
Unsurprisingly the Police and Home Office are making no substantive comment on this matter, knowing that this outrageous abuse of what is draconian legislation cannot possibly be justified. The Terrorism Act exists to protect this country from genuine threats to our security, not to intimidate journalists from going about their legitimate business to investigate and inform.
We pride ourselves on Britain being a free democracy. If we allow the Police and security services to misuse their powers to question and intimidate journalists and their partners, then we lose that freedom and become no better than the totalitarian states that our politicians so often condemn.