back to article British spooks seize tech from Snowden journo's boyfriend at airport

The Brazilian partner of Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald – Edward Snowden's go-to reporter for the dissemination of sensitive papers about the NSA's dragnet surveillance programmes – has been released from custody. The 28-year-old was held for almost nine hours for questioning by Metropolitan Police officers when he passed …

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Maybe this is an exercise

Maybe this is an exercise to set a precedent in which one power will definitely nab a person of interest in a transit hub, and maybe via use of non-law-enforcement agents.

(Interesting that they did not assail him with charges of gay porn transport...)

How long before foreign powers start placing in in-transit centers "standby rendition artists/agents" who rotate between airports (to avoid suspicion if they were to stay in a single location (not in a hotel in the in-transit area, but in the waiting air/lounges) for more than 24 hours), waiting for a digital blurp containing the "go-grab code" to knock out or daze someone enough to make them compliant enough to put on a plane and whisk (wisk?) away to a non-interfering country?

If this is not already in the playbooks for these spooks, then I wonder why it has not happened yet, or at least not enough to be in the news. Maybe Snowden's arrival to the Russian airport with all those mazes of rooms, hallways, tunnels, and magic doors saved his ass from being nabbed by triple-agents playing more than 3 sides.

Nabbing someone's gear probably means something indeed was what they were after, or at least a copy of what they wanted. It may be that another party has another copy in transit, and he was a high-alert decoy, and some other undetected person in the loop slipped by. This probably was a high-stakes info transfer, and if they relied on just getting Miranda through, undoubtedly not going to have the right to have his equipment in his possession, would be an unsafe move.

But, keeping his gear away from him probably could mean:

-- the spooks who are scanning it found nothing incriminating, but just want to send a warning the world "we'll TAKE your shit from you even if you didn't personally do something wrong, if you are associated with someone we thoroughly despise.", or

-- it could be they used forensics techniques that somehow slipped up their search techniques

-- they found something, but it is heavily encrypted, will take some time, and might even be only a portion of what they are after, and is somehow possibly a dual-key to decrypt the other part of the file still out there (if such an encryp/decrypt process exists.

How long before confiscating a person's gear TURNS such people into "terrists"? Yes, we all are supposed to remember the mantra "back up, back up, back up!", but some people forget the meaning of having a reliable backup. Still, theft is theft, whether by a thief on the street or a government agent carrying a badge and unverified warrant.

Sust jome thandom roughts thrunning rough mi mynd

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Poor guy

Stealing military intel and/or distributing it around, why on earth would anyone want to 'stop and frisk' this guy? How awful. If anything, he should be paid business class air tickets and 5 star hotels by our tax money.

Snowden, Assange, .... all heroes

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Anonymous Coward

Gibraltar border

I wonder if Spanish laws allow immigration officers to stop anyone crossing from Gibraltar for 9 hours as suspected terrorists. Wait for Cameron to cry with Barroso.

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Re: Gibraltar border

It seems that Spanish efficiency allows immigration officers to stop anyone crossing from Gibraltar for 9 hours

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Joke

Brazillian

I think the Mrs should get rid of her Brazillian, we don't want that one fingering by the spooks on the way through customs.

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"The Guardian has admitted that it paid for his flights"

I wonder if they were in on it ?

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Facepalm

Ve haf ways of making you vulvill our interrest!

In fact, however, it seems more likely that the spooks were primarily interested in any information they may be able to harvest from Miranda's gadgetry

Hey sure, I'm interested in ${CELEBS}'s vagoo. Doesn't mean I get to finger it.

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Unhappy

So held for about 28:50 longer than needed to copy his personal data I guess

What's The Terrorism Act good for so far?

Freezing assets of foreign banks moving through UK banks because otherwise UK councils would lose them.

Detaining friends (I don't think they've gone through a formal ceremony) of Persons Of Interest involved in "Copnspiracy-to-embarass-another-country-the-UK-is-big-buds-with"

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Re: So held for about 28:50 longer than needed to copy his personal data I guess

Yeah, but he's not just a "friend" of the journo (I think you're teeheeing around the fact that - omg - he's a gay man with a bf), his boyfriend is the journo behind releasing of Five-Eyes classified material, and he is in transit from a meeting with Snowden's assistant, on his way to meet with his boyfriend, the whole trip being paid for by the newspaper that is publishing this material. He could very well have been travelling with material that is classified in the UK.

When you put it like that, they would be remiss in not taking the opportunity to examine anything he can store digital data on.

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Big Brother

'Avaricious gangsters controlling USA rule peasants with terror'

'Boyfriend of journalist involved in release of classified information NOT stopped in airport while travelling with laptop on trip financed by journo's newspaper'.

Really? Who was sacked over that negligence?

This is just a symptom. The sickness is in the title. These Americans do not see terrorism as foreigners inflicting terror on their people, but as an excuse for themselves to inflict terror on their people. Just like the street-corner gangsters they emulate. "Nice life you've got here. Be a pity if anything happened to it."

The Statue of Liberty should be done under the Trade Descriptions Act.

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Unhappy

Re: So held for about 28:50 longer than needed to copy his personal data I guess

"Yeah, but he's not just a "friend" of the journo (I think you're teeheeing around the fact that - omg - he's a gay man with a bf), his boyfriend is the journo behind releasing of Five-Eyes classified material, and he is in transit from a meeting with Snowden's assistant, on his way to meet with his boyfriend, the whole trip being paid for by the newspaper that is publishing this material. He could very well have been travelling with material that is classified in the UK."

Not at all. I meant he has no legal connection to the journalist in the case IE they have been through a civil ceremony. He's just some random stranger who only detailed surveillance indicates is connected to the journalist in question. Do I seem like I'm from the Bible Belt to you?

Carrying documents you are not authorized to may be many things but it is not "Terrrorism."

Still lesson learned. No more transits through "thief row".

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Interesting ...

I'd have thought that Snowden was water under the bridge by now but clearly there's a lot more information that they are very scared he will reveal.

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Re: Interesting ...

Since the US no-fly list still contains the names of journalists who were investigating Nixon - I think it's more a matter of anyone who doesn't support us is an enemy for life

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Unhappy

Re: Interesting ...

"Since the US no-fly list still contains the names of journalists who were investigating Nixon - I think it's more a matter of anyone who doesn't support us is an enemy for life"

So to be really spiteful and vindictive you need to be a Federal bureaucrat in the US govt.

Surprise surprise.

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with all this terror legislation we're going to need more terrorists

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Holmes

If terrorists do not exist, the Security State will have to invent them.

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Unhappy

"If terrorists do not exist, the Security State will have to invent them."

There are always more terrorists to find.

It just depends on how creative you are about how you look for them.

And of course your definition of "terrorist."

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Anonymous Coward

Tinker Tailor...

"it could be seen as a little odd that Greenwald, Miranda and Poitras didn't anticipate it"

Maybe they did - "let slip" to a suspected mole that the next tranche would be in David's laptop/camera/tennis shoe/used undies etc, and wait to see what happens on the trip home.

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Christ, you know the government are acting like twats when Keith fucking Vaz is on your side.

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Meh

@Greg J Preece

"Christ, you know the government are acting like twats when Keith fucking Vaz is on your side."

Indeed.

IIRC He was rather in favor of most of this stuff when in power, hence the various references to "Vazoline" and "greasing the machinery of oppression."

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Flame

Freedom

We've heard of it but these people haven't.

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Anonymous Coward

Could be worse

Turns out that the UK has the power to confiscate and scan "any" data storage medium, organic or otherwise.

This involves strapping the subject into an fMRI scanner and displaying sequential data until the scan gets a "hit" which proves that the suspect was aware of something being displayed and is therefore hiding something.

Cue rubber hose cryptanalysis, or other methods of persuasion "well they *know* something and we can prove it" etc.

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Re: Could be worse ... The beginnings of Section 31?

GCHQ probably has a multiphasic/bayronic quadrantal, triaxilating magneton scanner and can do a hghly localized baryon sweep to find the "data-transporting" DNA traveller...

On 2% of occasions, the invaded subject dies...

This may interest some, though:

"Journalist's Partner Threatens Legal Action Over Heathrow Detention"

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323608504579024644124166008.html

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Returned tech must be considered deeply hacked and unusable

Although the story does not mention it, the returned techology must be considered deeply hacked and unusable.

There are no scans or physical examinations that will reveal all the bugs and holes the NSA and GCHQ can imbed into your computer's software, firmware and hardware.

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Anonymous Coward

Why stop Miranda ?

They stopped him to verify that it was really Miranda and not someone else traveling on a genuine passport in the name of Miranda.

Six Israelis had genuine passports.

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Guys, it is about adding stuff to the tech, not copying it off.

Guys, it is about adding stuff to the tech, not copying it off.

Nine hours, you could replace lots of stock chips with custom made NSA chips.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Guys, it is about adding stuff to the tech, not copying it off.

Why bother ? It's much easier just hacking the Chinese who put the spyware into the original chips at source.

There is a war on (always has been) between security services,

It gets interesting (and more lethal for the locals) when the interminable internecine conflicts arise, these can only be solved by outside mediation (Good Friday)

Spooks will be Spooks.

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Instant delete?

There have been a few stories recently of border staff taking images of mobile phones from people at airports. Most of the remote delete apps for phones tend to take a while, and you can be compelled to provide your password for any encryption. I know Seagate recently developed an "instant secure erase" feature for their hard disks - I'd certainly pay a couple of quid for an app that would perform an instant delete of all the data on my phone via a big red button or text message.

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Anonymous Coward

these fucking MPs...

...Keith Vaz and Yvette Cooper crawl out from their holes and question the reason the cops use anti-terror legislation against a guy who is, quite obviously, not a terrorist.

The reason is perfectly simple - because Cooper, Vaz et al marched enthusiastically in line behind Bliar and drafted the notorious terrorism act, which contains gems like this:

"power to stop and question may be exercised without suspicion of involvement in terrorism"

Not only can they detain and question you, you are not entitled to a lawyer (certainly not for the first hour) and you are required to cooperate and answer their questions or you commit a criminal offence.

Vaz, Cooper? Do you see now what you did, you fucking cretins? You passed these tyrannical laws, and now you're expressing concern at how they're being used for political harassment?

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...In fact, however, it seems more likely that the spooks were primarily interested in any information they may be able to harvest from Miranda's gadgetry, which might give them a better picture of what yet-to-be-published information Snowden has passed to Greenwald and/or Poitras....

If you can get some encryption keys off this laptop, then a lot of previously intercepted messages suddenly become readable...

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At the bottom of the BBC story about Miranda's detention...

... are these words:

Have you or has anybody you know been detained at a British airport under the Terrorism Act 2000? Please get in contact using the form below....

Do you think they will get any takers..?

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Own goals

never help your promotion chances.

So next time you seek parliament's assent for draconian power pt.3, pt.5 ... you might just be invited to have sex and travel PROVIDED us sheeples in the UK voice our disquiet over this latest blatant abuse to our local MPs ASAP. As for you spooks - if you want this information then go get it in a spooky way rather than showing the world that intelligence gathering is increasingly both viciously and publicly inept. Anyone check inside Mr Miranda's watch clasp or behind his teeth for a microSD card btw.?

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Maybe those spooks get too much reverence?

Umberto Eco once said:

"By now it should be quite apparent that Big Brother is an idiot who sleeps most of the time."

-

So BB wakes up, makes some ruckus, harasses people, demands to know everything about everybody. And shoots himself in both feet.

That does not seem to be very cunning, does it? Even if the footgun is a high-tech one.

Dangerous, no doubt. But what kind of dangerous - a devious mastermind, or a cretin with way too much power?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Maybe those spooks get too much reverence?

Eco is probably only half right; I suspect Terry Gilliam's 'Brazil' is much nearer the mark. Incompetent, but perfectly happy to wire your nuts to the mains at the drop of a hat and assume your lack of the 'right' answer proves your deceit rather than his incompetence. Rinse and repeat ad nauseam.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Maybe those spooks get too much reverence?

You're missing the point. This isn't an attempt at secretly gathering data - the purpose is quite obviously to demonstrate to a fearful public that the authorities have the power to do whatever the fuck they please, and you cannot do anything about it.

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Re: Maybe those spooks get too much reverence?

Probably so. Then again, Eco does not say they're not dangerous, and neither did I. I'm just having trouble with a popular depiction - omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent agencies. That is probably a huge exxageration.

Even in 1984, fear of the Big Brother seems to induce more harm than said entity itself.

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Black Helicopters

Politicians don't really have much say in what the spooks decide to do. They just do as they're told.and hope that their skeletons don't mysteriously fall out of the closet in full view the mainstream media.

Watch the Coulson/Brooks charade next month for a few more clues as to how 21st century politics is conducted in the ivory towers of Westminster Village.

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Anonymous Coward

Brilliant innovative strategy by anti-Heathrow expansion people!

I must congratulate those people campaigning against future expansion of Heathrow. This innovative action has been a good way of increasing the chance that there will be no increase in the use of the airport as a transit or "hub" in Europe, and so one of the main justifications for the expansion will be removed.

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Anonymous Coward

Boo Hoo

Phuck around, go to prison.

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I surmise from the tone off this article, that the reporter has some strong affinity with this sort of "let's fuck em about as much as possible and then not return their no doubt very expensive property" kind of tactic.

Maybe he would agree with the famous smug twat on some topical news quiz who implied that there was no good reason to read the Guardian newspaper, and in one fell swoop, dismiss the often excellent uncovering of machiavellian misbehavior and misdeeds of the good old forces of law and order.

Or perhaps I'm just in a filthy mood today and have missed the point. Anything's possible

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(Written by Reg staff)

Yeah, you've missed the point. Crack on.

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Life's a bitch

...and then you die.

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Cloud

What kind of idiot stores 'that' kind of data on something you take through an airport ?

It's what the Cloud was invented for, oh and don't have live links to it on your laptop etc.

Schoolboy error.

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Re the secret services maybe being more incompetent than amazing: <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/adamcurtis/posts/BUGGER">Maybe the real state secret is that spies aren't very good at their job</a>

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BUGGER

A fascinating read. For lot of that, pure truth may never come out, but fascinating nevertheless.

One gem in there:

"Neither of them noticed that he had been stealing a huge amount of MI5 top secret documents and stashing them at his home. Bettaney was only caught when he took some of the best of these secrets and tried to stuff them into the letter box of the Second Secretary of the Russian Embassy - Mr Gouk.

Mr Gouk was so confused by this that, instead of passing them on to the KGB, he went round to MI5 and gave them back, and told them where they had come from. MI5 arrested Bettaney and he was put on trial."

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The three rules of politics

Rule 1. Anyone who says they have power doesn't have power.

This is because to gain an office that has the appearance of power they must have been allowed to do so by those with actual power.

Rule 2. Anyone who says they have power is either a willing puppet or a gullible fool.

This is dependent on whether they are aware of rule 1 or not.

Rule 3. Anyone who says they have power should not be allowed to have power.

This is explained by rule 2.

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This kind of behavior...

...is showing our democracies have lost the war on terror, by abandoning the values they were fighting for.

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FAIL

The British Govt. Still fighting The War on Journalists

I'd like to know which bureaucrat thought this up.

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