!cid_646C6B28-19C2-47E8-8A8B-C3F5FB57CB74

(by Anthony Freda, via wendydavis@flickr.com)

This morning while Glenn Greenwald’s partner, David Miranda, was walking through Heathrow Airport on his way back to Rio de Janeiro from Berlin, authorities detained him and held him for just under nine hours while they questioned him.  He wasn’t arrested, but his cell phone, laptop, memory sticks, a game console, DVDs and camera were all confiscated.

He was being detained under Schedule 7 of the UK’s Terror Act 2000; it established the nine hour maximum for detaining what we can only call ‘suspects’ without an arrest following questioning.

While in Berlin, Miranda had visited Laura Poitras, the US film-maker who has also been working on the Snowden files with Greenwald and the Guardian. The Guardian paid for Miranda’s flights.

This is a profound attack on press freedoms and the news gathering process,” Greenwald said. “To detain my partner for a full nine hours while denying him a lawyer, and then seize large amounts of his possessions, is clearly intended to send a message of intimidation to those of us who have been reporting on the NSA and GCHQ. The actions of the UK pose a serious threat to journalists everywhere.

But the last thing it will do is intimidate or deter us in any way from doing our job as journalists. Quite the contrary: it will only embolden us more to continue to report aggressively.

A spokesperson for the Guardian wants to know what the hell, while Scotland Yard isn’t divulging one jot of information, save: “At 08:05 on Sunday, 18 August a 28-year-old man was detained at Heathrow airport under schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000. He was not arrested. He was subsequently released at 17:00.”

Schedule 7 has been widely criticized for its overly broad powers, including a suspect’s right to legal defense during questioning, not to mention calling it a crime to refuse to answer questions. The government last month had promised to tweak the Schedule to give … oh, never mind. They hadn’t done it. Read more here at the Guardian..

Amnesty UK has this to say in part:

There is simply no basis for believing that David Michael Miranda presents any threat whatsoever to the UK government. The only possible intent behind this detention was to harass him and his partner, Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, for his role in analysing the data released by Edward Snowden.

States cannot pass anti-terror acts and claim they are necessary to protect people from harm and then use them to retaliate against someone exercising his rights. By targeting Miranda and Greenwald, the UK authorities are also sending a message to other journalists that if they maintain their independence and report critically about governments, they too may be targeted.

Apparently the US and its satellite lapdog UK haven’t learned a thing about such tactics and their unintended consequences since the Evo Morales plane fiasco. Feel free to speculate about any of it, including the fact that both Greenwald and Miranda had to suspect that Miranda would have been under constant surveillance, especially given the fact that his laptop was stolen from their Rio apartment a month or so ago.

This demonstrates the lengths to which the security state is willing to go in intimidation tactics. No, Miranda wasn’t arrested, or tortured (although I hope they let him have a wee when and if he asked), but it’s upped the ante a bit. If you feel the burn, so do I. From Glenn, in part:

This is obviously a rather profound escalation of their attacks on the news-gathering process and journalism. It’s bad enough to prosecute and imprison sources. It’s worse still to imprison journalists who report the truth. But to start detaining the family members and loved ones of journalists is simply despotic. Even the Mafia had ethical rules against targeting the family members of people they felt threatened by. But the UK puppets and their owners in the US national security state obviously are unconstrained by even those minimal scruples. [snip]

Beyond that, every time the US and UK governments show their true character to the world – when they prevent the Bolivian President’s plane from flying safely home, when they threaten journalists with prosecution, when they engage in behavior like what they did today – all they do is helpfully underscore why it’s so dangerous to allow them to exercise vast, unchecked spying power in the dark.David was unable to call me because his phone and laptop are now with UK authorities. So I don’t yet know what they told him. But the Guardian’s lawyer was able to speak with him immediately upon his release, and told me that, while a bit distressed from the ordeal, he was in very good spirits and quite defiant, and he asked the lawyer to convey that defiance to me. I already share it, as I’m certain US and UK authorities will soon see.