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back to article Snowden journo boyf grill under anti-terror law was legal, says UK court

The detention and interrogation by British police of David Miranda, boyfriend of a journalist at the heart of the Edward Snowden NSA leaks furore, has been ruled to be legal by a British judge. Miranda was stopped at Heathrow airport and interrogated for almost nine hours last August under anti-terrorism legislation while in …

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Councils have been using anti-terrorism laws to investigate people sending their schools outside of the catchment area they live in and for fly tipping too. He was detained under the wrong law (not sure which one they should have used) but this kind of abuse of the law and due process is hardily unique.

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Stop

Not quite the same

He was stopped and found to be carrying information contrary to UK law. Whilst I don't think anybody would argue that he was a terrorist the information he was carrying would certainly be useful to terrorists.

Your comparison to councils is not dissimilar to comparing the detention of Al Jazeera journalists in Egypt with David's detention (and release). David was detained for 9 hours found to have been in possession of documents against UK law, the journalists in Egypt seem to have been detained indefinitely.

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Anonymous Coward

Anti-terror laws should be only used for anti-terror operations..

I think they need to bring in severe penalties for misuse of powers, any by tougher penalties I mean real punishments like lashes, the stocks..

Corporal punishment would be more effective as a punishment than prison for many crimes.....

I think I should be the ruler, I may be mad, but its not like I could do any worse than our current government..

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Re: Not quite the same

There's a certain stigma to be being held under anti-terrorism legislation. Your name could appear on a number of certain registers and lists and without having a conviction you can find it difficult to do things like fly to the US, get certain jobs etc etc. I am not saying he should not have been detained, I am saying they should have used a more appropriate law under which to detain him.

As for the info being of use to terrorists, juding by what has been on the news it would be of indirect use e.g. look how bad our enemies are, come fight with us but not in directly planning attacks.

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Re: Not quite the same

"He was stopped and found to be carrying information contrary to UK law."

Other than it was encrypted, I do not think so

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Anonymous Coward

Not just that, they've been using CCTV and spying to catch people who don't pick up their dog's shite.

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Re: Not quite the same

I don't think this information was obtained legally in the first place by the NSA and GCHQ and in the US they certainly haven't instructed their border police to rough people up.

Just look at what Germany have been saying on the matter, Germany is one of the most popular countries internationally and you can see why.

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I think they need to bring in severe penalties for misuse of powers

tick-tock, tick-tock..

...

tick-tock, tick-tock...

...

uhm... well, I guess it's not gonna happen in my lifetime. eh?

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Re: Not quite the same

> He was stopped and found to be carrying information contrary to UK law

Hold on a moment.

Are you now telling me that it is illegal for some information (regardless of type) to be carried in the UK? That somebody can be arrested for carrying some files around?

We're not talking about theft here - nobody's accusing him of stealing anything. Even the charge of "handling stolen goods" generally refers to the actual bits of paper. He's not in breach of the Official Secrets Act because he never signed it.

How can it possibly be illegal to carry information when one has broken no other law?

Please, think about what you're suggesting.

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Re: Not quite the same @Richard Tyler

He as a foreign national was carrying just over 58,000 stolen highly classified UK intelligence documents .... I guess they must have got past the encryption. Like it or not as a minimum this would be against the official secrets act.

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Re: Not quite the same @dogged

Are you now telling me that it is illegal for some information (regardless of type) to be carried in the UK?

Yes ... OSA, Espionage these sort of laws. You will find that for certain jobs in the UK there is a requirement to sign the Official secrets act, this is to ensure that you are aware of the act. The Act Itself applies however regardless.

How can it possibly be illegal to carry information when one has broken no other law?

See above or read it yourself ......

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"Not just that, they've been using CCTV and spying to catch people who don't pick up their dog's shite."

And once the dog owner has been apprehended, the council should rightly torture the dirty bastards to death.

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Re: Not quite the same @Richard Tyler

@Titus Technophobe.

I suggest you read the Official Secrets Act.

You either have to be (or have been) employed in various jobs associated with secrets (e.g. military, intelligence agencies, contractor etc.) or have specifically been advised by a suitable authority in advance (hence the idea of 'signing' the Act). As he fits into neither category, I don't really see how this Act applies. It's more likely that some sort of Spying offence would have been carried out, especially as he was a foreign national.

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Re: Not quite the same @dogged

"The Act Itself applies however regardless."

I've read it (on GOV.UK) and not that I can see, unless you are employed in one of the listed categories, which he wasn't. So, the Act doesn't apply to him. In fact, the Act specifically says you have to be informed previously that the Act applies to you. Don't think he was!!

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Sir

"He as a foreign national was carrying just over 58,000 stolen highly classified UK intelligence documents"

You recall that the information was lifted from a server in the US right?

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Re: Sir

@Sir Runcible Spoon

Precisely. And no extradition warrant for David Miranda has been issued even today.

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Re: Not quite the same

You don't have to sign the official secrets act to be bound by it. We all are. Besides, your justification could be equally applicable to a spy who didn't steal the information himself, is not British, and just happens to be carrying some secret files.

You knowingly bring stolen British Intelligence files into the UK, you're going to be arrested. He's lucky he wasn't charged with spying in my book.

I also don't understand Greenwalds whining about the British Empire. The British Empire is famous for many things, but holding journalists and restricting the press aren't things that spring to my mind. America on the other hand....

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Re: Not quite the same @Mad Mike

A summary of the provisions of the Official Secrets act that apply to people who haven't signed is 'disclosure of or failure to return information which has been subject to the Official Secrets Act' is an offence.

The paragraphs are -

5.2) Subject to subsections (3) and (4) below, the person into whose possession the information, document or article has come is guilty of an offence if he discloses it without lawful authority knowing, or having reasonable cause to believe, that it is protected against disclosure by the foregoing provisions of this Act and that it has come into his possession as mentioned in subsection (1) above.

5.6) A person is guilty of an offence if without lawful authority he discloses any information, document or other article which he knows, or has reasonable cause to believe, to have come into his possession as a result of a contravention of section 1 of the [1911 c. 28.] Official Secrets Act 1911.

6.2) Subject to subsection (3) below, the person into whose possession the information, document or article has come is guilty of an offence if he makes a damaging disclosure of it knowing, or having reasonable cause to believe, that it is such as is mentioned in subsection (1) above, that it has come into his possession as there mentioned and that its disclosure would be damaging.

8.4) Where a person has in his possession or under his control any document or other article which it would be an offence under section 5 above for him to disclose without lawful authority, he is guilty of an offence if—

(a)he fails to comply with an official direction for its return or disposal; or

(b)where he obtained it from a Crown servant or government contractor on terms requiring it to be

held in confidence or in circumstances in which that servant or contractor could reasonably expect that it would be so held, he fails to take such care to prevent its unauthorised disclosure as a person in his position may reasonably be expected to take.

8.5) Where a person has in his possession or under his control any document or other article which it would be an offence under section 6 above for him to disclose without lawful authority, he is guilty of an offence if he fails to comply with an official direction for its return or disposal.

8.6) A person is guilty of an offence if he discloses any official information, document or other article which can be used for the purpose of obtaining access to any information, document or other article protected against disclosure by the foregoing provisions of this Act and the circumstances in which it is disclosed are such that it would be reasonable to expect that it might be used for that purpose without authority.

It is, as I understand it, a common fallacy to assume that the act either only applies to people who have signed it or worked in an official capacity for the UK government.

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Re: Not quite the same @Richard Tyler

The Official Secrets Act is a LAW (hence the act part at the end) not a contract. It applies to everyone, just like every other law. Ignorance is no excuse, nor is being born in another country, nor being the boyfriend of a journalist.

Signing of the act is just to make people aware of what they will be dealing with and what consequences they face.

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Re: Not quite the same @Mad Mike

Did you actually read any of that?

He didn't willingly disclose it. One could argue that the police forced him into breach of the Act by forcing his disclosure. One can only commit a crime if one is not under duress.

And anyway, the only relevant bit of the Act is from 1911 and states -

"[a person is guilty of espionage if he] obtains, collects, records, or publishes, or communicates to any other person any secret official code word, or pass word, or any sketch, plan, model, article, or note, or other document which is calculated to be or might be or is intended to be directly or indirectly useful to an enemy".

(emphasis is mine)

Since nothing he carried was calculated to be or might be or was intended to be directly or indirectly useful to an enemy unless your definition of "enemy" includes "law abiding citizen of the UK" - and if it does, you and I have a big fucking problem right there - he cannot be charged under the Act.

I work with lawyers a lot at the moment.

*sigh*

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Re: Not quite the same @dogged

In the court summary the documents are described as classified as either Secret or Top Secret. The definition of these classifications is information that is directly or indirectly useful to an enemy. The wording is different along the lines of putting individuals or the state in danger .... so you might have to think about this a little.

It is of course possible that the Police asked David to return rather than disclose the information? Maybe that's why he wasn't charged and they let him go after 9 hours?

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Re: Not quite the same

If "He was stopped and found to be carrying information contrary to UK law" why was he released?

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Re: Not quite the same @Mad Mike

@Titus Technophobe.

Let's look at each bit you've posted.

5.2 Did he disclose it? No. Not willingly anyway. Possibly when threatened by the police.

5.6 Two defences. Firstly, he didn't disclose. Secondly, it didn't come into his possession because of a breach of the Act. It came from the NSA and it was willingly given to them. So, it came into his possession possibly through a breach of an American law, not a breach of the Official Secrets Act.

6.2 Again, no disclosure.

8.4 Was he asked to return it? No. Did he get it from a Crown servant or government contractor? No.

8.5 Was he officially asked to return it? No. Therefore he can't have failed to return it.

8.6 Again, no disclosure.

So, he hasn't breached the Official Secrets Act in any way. He hasn't breached any of the sections you've highlighted, largely because they never actually asked to him to do anything (such as return it) and instead turned into the Stasi and escalated the situation potentially without need.

I am quite aware the act doesn't need to be signed, hence my use of quotes around it. The act of 'signing' is simply making sure a person is explicitly aware.

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Re: Not quite the same @Mad Mike

He didn't willingly disclose it. One could argue that the police forced him into breach of the Act by forcing his disclosure. One can only commit a crime if one is not under duress.

Umm, no. It seems people are gently trying to step over the fact that he was knowingly carrying information which was a. not his to start with, b. very obviously was government level classified and c. was not given to him as part of any government work. In other words, he was carrying contraband, just digital (even if you leave the "national security stuff" out of the picture, it clearly was the result of theft).

An arrest based on a suspicion is perfectly acceptable for the purpose for investigation (probable cause principle), secondly, this arrest proved the initial suspicion to be correct and so the whole show moved into "being caught in the act" stage. That is concerned classified material just adds some sauce to it. There is no duress here - nobody forced him to carry that data, and there is nobody in the world who will believe him if he would say he didn't know what information he was carrying.

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Re: Not quite the same

@Connor.

"You don't have to sign the official secrets act to be bound by it. We all are. Besides, your justification could be equally applicable to a spy who didn't steal the information himself, is not British, and just happens to be carrying some secret files."

You notice that I never said you did anywhere in my post. You will also notice that I said spying laws would probably be more applicable.

"You knowingly bring stolen British Intelligence files into the UK, you're going to be arrested. He's lucky he wasn't charged with spying in my book."

Which I did say.

"I also don't understand Greenwalds whining about the British Empire. The British Empire is famous for many things, but holding journalists and restricting the press aren't things that spring to my mind. America on the other hand...."

I think you'll find there are the mechanisms in place to constrain the press and they have pretty similar scope to those in the USA. They may not have been used much to date, but as recent events show, their use is escalating more than somewhat.

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"I think they need to bring in severe penalties for misuse of powers, any by tougher penalties I mean real punishments like lashes, the stocks.."

The point is, as long as the laws are so deliberately vague, not limiting themselves to certain crimes and not defining "Terrorism". You first have to define "propper" use of a law before you can punish "misuse". And that is one of the problems here.

It would be best to get rid of those vague "anti-terrorism" laws. There is virtually no terrorism in western countries, only abuse of those laws.

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Re: Not quite the same @Mad Mike

@AC

"Umm, no. It seems people are gently trying to step over the fact that he was knowingly carrying information which was a. not his to start with, b. very obviously was government level classified and c. was not given to him as part of any government work. In other words, he was carrying contraband, just digital (even if you leave the "national security stuff" out of the picture, it clearly was the result of theft).

An arrest based on a suspicion is perfectly acceptable for the purpose for investigation (probable cause principle), secondly, this arrest proved the initial suspicion to be correct and so the whole show moved into "being caught in the act" stage. That is concerned classified material just adds some sauce to it. There is no duress here - nobody forced him to carry that data, and there is nobody in the world who will believe him if he would say he didn't know what information he was carrying."

As I have pointed out in another reply, the Official Secrets Act generally does not make possession an offence, but the act of disclosure is. Therefore, simple possession of the data probably isn't illegal in this act, although could be in others......e.g. spying. The duress comes in that the police made his disclose it to them. Therefore, the duress is what made him break the act i.e. forcing disclosure. It has nothing to do with carrying the classified material as that is not an offence under the Official Secrets Act.

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Re: Not quite the same @Mad Mike

@Mad Mike I've read it (on GOV.UK) and not that I can see, unless you are employed in one of the listed categories, which he wasn't. So, the Act doesn't apply to him. In fact, the Act specifically says you have to be informed previously that the Act applies to you. Don't think he was!!

I can only hope that you now realize this wrong......

5.2 Did he disclose it? No. Not willingly anyway. Possibly when threatened by the police.

The police stopped him as they had a suspicion, subsequently proved correct, that he was carrying the information. Failure to comply with a request to hand the material over would then be a breach of the OSA.

5.6 Two defences. Firstly, he didn't disclose. Secondly, it didn't come into his possession because of a breach of the Act. It came from the NSA and it was willingly given to them. So, it came into his possession possibly through a breach of an American law, not a breach of the Official Secrets Act.

Before suggesting that other people read the OSA if you bothered to read the act yourself you will find that obtaining materials from a foreign source is covered.

6.2 Again, no disclosure.

Not required it just has to be in his possession.

8.4 Was he asked to return it? No.

How do you know this? ..... I would have thought this would be the first question they would ask given that he was stopped because he was suspected to be carrying information.

Did he get it from a Crown servant or government contractor? No.

Read the OSA carefully.......

8.5 Was he officially asked to return it? No. Therefore he can't have failed to return it.

See above.

8.6 Again, no disclosure.

Irrelevant again.

So, he hasn't breached the Official Secrets Act in any way. He hasn't breached any of the sections you've highlighted, largely because they never actually asked to him to do anything (such as return it) and instead turned into the Stasi and escalated the situation potentially without need.

The Stasi, or indeed the Egyptian secret police (mentioned in the article) probably wouldn't have let him go. They stopped him on suspicion which was then confirmed how was this esculated?

I am quite aware the act doesn't need to be signed, hence my use of quotes around it. The act of 'signing' is simply making sure a person is explicitly aware.

You may be aware that the act doesn't need to be signed .... you didn't seem to be aware that it also does apply to people who haven't worked for the government.

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Re: Not quite the same

Presumably it is fine for the North Koreans to arrest and harass people there, if they find them to be in possession of information contrary to NK law?

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Re: Not quite the same

Presumably it is fine for the North Koreans to arrest and harass people there, if they find them to be in possession of information contrary to NK law?

Perhaps if North Korea behaved in the same way as the UK in this instance the UN might not be comparing them to the Nazi regime.

Are you seriously trying to suggest that stopping David Miranda to recover 58,00 sensitive documents is the same as North Korea? In North Korea it would appear that you can be executed for watching South Korean movies? Was David Miranda executed? ..... No they let him go.

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Re: Not quite the same

Official Secrets Act is UK law everyone in the UK was to follow it just like Offences against the Person Act as don't need to sign that to be found guilty of GBH. All signing the OSA is granting clearance to access information that is classified under the act.

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"Corporal punishment would be more effective as a punishment than prison for many crimes....."

I would argue that prison is a form of corporal punishment.

Maybe they should apply the same rule to those that let Snowden get the info in the first place ?

Their incompetence aiding terrorism ?

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Re: Not quite the same @Mad Mike

@Titus Technophobe

"You may be aware that the act doesn't need to be signed .... you didn't seem to be aware that it also does apply to people who haven't worked for the government."

I don't recall ever saying it didn't.

You don't seem to have answered a very major point, which is you have no evidence he didn't disclose when asked. Possession of material covered under the OSA is NOT an offence as otherwise, if someone found some at say a rubbish tip, they couldn't return it, as they would be committing an offence holding it!! That's why the OSA deals with what you DO with it, not mere possession.

And the funny thing is, he was actually allowed to go on his way rather than being charged with anything, let alone a crime under the OSA, which you seem to erroneously think he has committed and provided no evidence of. If he had, he would have been arrested and prosecuted as prescribed by the law. So, the police by letting him go are effectively admitting they had no evidence he had broken any laws, let alone the OSA!!

In your haste to support the action, you're casting around for excuses to denigrate him, whilst the police released him WITHOUT charge. Therefore, the police themselves disagree with you!!

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Re: dogged Re: Not quite the same @Mad Mike

"Did you actually read any of that?...." I've actually read the Act and signed the acknowledgement more than once and been given advice on its content, so I can tell you it does apply as a LAW. All UK citizens ANYWHERE in the World are bound by it, and anyone of any nationality coming into contact with material covered by the OSA - regardless of whether they disclose it or INTEND to be a party to a dislosure - are also expected to follow the terms of the law, especially if on UK territory. You DO NOT have to sign anything and DO NOT have to be in a particular type of job. Miranda was knowingly carrying copies of restricted material through British territory, having demonstrated his intent to be a party to its disclosue, a really stupid act, and one his attention-seeking boyfriend should have known better than to commit him to do.

".....I work with lawyers a lot at the moment....." Not surprised, but you really should have asked them rather than trying to make the law into what you wanted to baaaah-lieve.

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@dogged.... Re: Not quite the same

"Are you now telling me that it is illegal for some information (regardless of type) to be carried in the UK? That somebody can be arrested for carrying some files around?"

It depends on what that information contains...

Stop me if you've heard this one...

A long time ago, there was a revolution in the American Colonies against their British overlords.

There was this one guy riding on horseback... Benedict Arnold who was a British Loyalist.

He was found carrying a piece of paper in his sock...

Do you really have to ask why one can be stopped and arrested for carrying around certain documents that they don't own?

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Re: dogged Not quite the same @Mad Mike

@Matt Bryant.

"Miranda was knowingly carrying copies of restricted material through British territory, having demonstrated his intent to be a party to its disclosue"

How exactly has he demonstrated his intent to be a party to its disclosure? Can they even prove he knew what he was carrying? Maybe he was just carrying something for his boyfriend and didn't know what it was? Did he cooperate fully with the police? As far as we know.

You're claiming all sorts of things without actually being able to prove them. Just because you want to believe all sorts of things, doesn't make it true and certainly doesn't mean the police could prove it.

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Not just that, they've been using CCTV and spying to catch people who don't pick up their dog's shite.

So what? Those people deserve it.

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> So what? Those people deserve it.

They might well deserve it - but the *rest* of society doesn't deserve having its rights trampled upon to achieve that end.

Not clearing up your dog shit should be unlawful. But it isn't terrorism, and so anti-terrorist legislation - which, IIRC we were specifically assured would not be used for other purposes - is not the mechanism to be used.

Vic.

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Re: Not quite the same@dogged

Your reply doesn't take into consideration espionage how many of the spys had signed up to the official secrets act, not that many!

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Re: Not quite the same

"Are you now telling me that it is illegal for some information (regardless of type) to be carried in the UK? That somebody can be arrested for carrying some files around?"

This has been the situation for a very long time:

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/Geo5/1-2/28

Para 1 (1) c

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Re: Not quite the same @dogged

Since this decision was made by Lord Justice (not Mr Justice as it says in the article) Laws, it is probably wrong, The man is a judicial activist of the highest order. Hopefully there will be enough money for Greenwald to go to higher court to get a more reliable decision.

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Re: Not quite the same

"We're not talking about theft here - nobody's accusing him of stealing anything. Even the charge of "handling stolen goods" generally refers to the actual bits of paper. He's not in breach of the Official Secrets Act because he never signed it."

The Official Secrets Act is a LAW. Signing it is just a reminder that you're bound by it.

Please, think about what you're saying.

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Re: Not quite the same

The OSA applies to anyone in the UK, whether they've signed it or not.

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Re: Not quite the same @Mad Mike

This was an arrest under suspicion of carring classified information. It was a dention under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism act.. which places very specific limits on the circumstances under which it can be exercised. Go and look it up. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glenn_Greenwald

Now, to any layman it would seem that the rules were clearly broken. Miranda is clearly not a terrorist, no matter how much you try to dilute the meaning of that word.

The judges disagreed. Which raises interesting questions about how valuable the alleged rule of law we have in the UK actually is in practice.

It's also worth noth noting that he was neither arrested nor charged with any offence. Now ask yourself: If half the government propaganda was true, and Miranda and Greenwald were actually posing a threat to the security of the country, would they have let him go? Bear in mind that you can - thanks to Blair - be imprisoned for years for "possessing items likely to be of use to a terrorist" (say, a map of London, or a smartphone).

No, this is all about preserving the reputation of the NSA and GCHQ, and covering up their illegal surveillance. And the judicial system is now officially complicit.

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Re: Not quite the same

"Other than it was encrypted, I do not think so"

I do, as it was Classified and greater level information owned by GCHQ and he was not authorised to carry it. He was not the legitimate owner, not cleared for it and the data was essentially stolen. Surely there cannot be much debate as to if the data was legal to possess or not.

BUT:

Detention under the official secrets act would have been the way to go, rather than the anti-terrorism laws. However, I suspect that the officials in question aren't au fait with OFA legislation and just used the tool they knew worked.

Anti-terror legislation has become an unfortunate catch-all for the authorities. Don't like the look of that bloke with a camera? Stop him under A-T legislation. Dodgy youth? Search him under A-T legislation. It's a carte blanche and a too-easily-reached-for tool.

Granted, our police officers are not trained lawyers and are not supposed to be: It is there job to try to enforce the law and the lawyers are supposed to cover the details. The police don't have the time to know how to properly detain everyone for everything and every law, and have to work with what they have been told. Sadly, they have been seemingly told that the anti-terror legislation is a great legitimate catch-all for rounding people up that will hold firm under judicial oversight.

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Re: Psyx Re: Not quite the same

".....Detention under the official secrets act would have been the way to go, rather than the anti-terrorism laws....." You are failing to understand that an eventual charge need have nothing to do with the original reason for a stop or search. For example, if a copper has a warrant to search your home for drugs and instead finds a ton of paedo material, they don't just go 'oh, sorry, we'll ignore that obvious crime because it's not what we were originally looking for.' If a traffic cop stops you for suspected drink driving and spots a loaded gun in your car you will be done for it. The coppers in the Miranda case used the anti-terror laws as it gave them a nine hour interrogation period and the powers to seize his electronic equipment. They justified it on the grounds that the information Snowdope was releasing was already leading terror groups to change their coms, meaning that there was a reason to believe any material on GCHQ techniques being carried by Miranda could also be of use to terrorists. The coppers had to let Miranda go after nine hours as they did not have enough to charge him by the end of that period, probably because they had not managed to decrypt and analyse his devices by then. Should Miranda be stupid enough to set foot on UK territory again he could very well be charged with both breach of the OSA and terror laws.

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Re: dogged Re: dogged Not quite the same @Mad Mike

"I see Matt Bryant is still a cunt, then." LOL, I see the sheeple are still having a hard time dealing with dissent. And, FTR, I'm quite partial to cunt, so can we assume your finding it unappealing means you are partial to male sexual organs instead?

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Re: dogged Not quite the same @Mad Mike

".....How exactly has he demonstrated his intent to be a party to its disclosure? Can they even prove he knew what he was carrying? .....You're claiming all sorts of things without actually being able to prove them......" Whilst it is always amusing to see how the sheeple simply fail to read any background info before bleating their baaah-liefs, it's not surprising the poor little woollies are confused when Greenwald and co keep changing their stories. First of all they claimed Miranda was just an e-mule, then they claimed he was working for The Guardian, and then they claimed he was not just a journo but actually deeply involved in the Snowdope work. I suggest you read the original Guardian report linked below, then the second link on how Greenwald's story has evolved.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/aug/19/david-miranda-interview-detention-heathrow

http://www.boilingfrogspost.com/2014/01/06/part-ii-david-mirandas-detainment-the-calico-kitten-in-wag-the-dog/

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