Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 19th Aug 2013 14:05 UTC

The partner of the Guardian journalist who has written a series of stories revealing mass surveillance programmes by the US National Security Agency was held for almost nine hours on Sunday by UK authorities as he passed through London's Heathrow airport on his way home to Rio de Janeiro.

David Miranda, who lives with Glenn Greenwald, was returning from a trip to Berlin when he was stopped by officers at 8.05am and informed that he was to be questioned under schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000. The controversial law, which applies only at airports, ports and border areas, allows officers to stop, search, question and detain individuals.

Miranda also had all his equipment confiscated. He has done nothing wrong - there's no charges, no criminal suspicion, nothing at all. His only crime is being the partner of a famous journalist who, among other things, is one of the driving forces behind shining a light on the NSA's mass surveillance.

There is no war on terror, because the terrorists have already won.

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"UK abuses terrorism law"
by flypig on Mon 19th Aug 2013 16:45 UTC
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In my view the title of this piece is wrong. Most likely the UK didn't "abuse" a terrorism law, because the law in question is so broadly defined that it can be used for anything: "An examining officer may exercise his powers under this paragraph whether or not he has grounds for suspecting that a person falls within section 40(1)(b) [i.e. is involved in terrorism]"

Politicians use (or fall for) this trick all the time. Just because there's "terrorism" in the title, if there's no oversight and no checks built in, then it can be applied to anybody for any reason.

I'm not at all trying to excuse what happened. What I'm saying is that this abuse of power should have been stopped when it was going through parliament. It's sad that it takes until the partner of a news reporter is detained for this to become a news story. In 2012 there were 681 people detained leading to "approximately 7 convictions". That's 574 (presumed) innocent people detained.

Reply Score: 8

RE: "UK abuses terrorism law"
by mutantsushi on Mon 19th Aug 2013 23:31 in reply to ""UK abuses terrorism law""
mutantsushi Member since:

Although the law throws out any requirement for normally justifiable suspicion, the purpose of questioning is still legally required to pertain to determination of involvement in terrorism, which by all accounts was not even touched upon in their interrogation.

According to the Code of Practice of the Terrorism Act of 2000 itself:

"The purpose of questioning and associated powers is to determine whether a person appears to be someone who is or has been concerned in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism. The powers, which are additional to the powers of arrest under the Act, should not be used for any other purpose."

(props to: for bringing that detail to my attention)

Although your point stands that regardless of the details of the law, granting such broad police state powers is practically inevitable to result in abuses such as this.

Edited 2013-08-19 23:38 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[2]: "UK abuses terrorism law"
by flypig on Tue 20th Aug 2013 00:06 in reply to "RE: "UK abuses terrorism law""
flypig Member since:

Thanks; that's very interesting. However, the quote you provided is from the guidance, which has no legal enforceability as far as I'm aware. As it says in the guidance:

"The notes for guidance are not provisions of the code but are guidance to examining officers on its application and interpretation."

The act itself does state the purpose of questioning someone has to be "for the purpose of determining whether he appears to be a person falling within section 40(1)(b)", but I don't see any check on this in the text.

I'm not a lawyer, didn't read the full legislation and would love to be proven wrong, so if you know otherwise I'd be very happy to hear it. Luckily the law is currently under review, so hopefully this incident will at least help reinforce the need to rein in these powers.

Reply Parent Score: 2