EDITORIAL: Interrogation out of bounds [The Virginian-Pilot]
(Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk, VA) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Aug. 20--It's hard to believe that British authorities had anything other than rank intimidation in mind when they detained the spouse of Glenn Greenwald, the Guardian journalist instrumental in revealing the massive surveillance overreach by the U.S. government.
David Miranda, Greenwald's partner, was returning to Brazil from a trip to Berlin when he was stopped by officers at Heathrow airport. He was questioned under the Terrorism Act of 2000 for nine hours, the maximum under British law. When he was released, officials kept his phone, computer, camera, games and memory cards.
Since early June, Greenwald has written a series of stories based on leaks from Edward Snowden detailing surveillance at the U.S. National Security Agency. The Guardian has also published stories on overreach by the Government Communications Headquarters, a British department with a similar mission.
Before he was detained, Miranda had visited with Laura Poitras, a documentary filmmaker working with Greenwald and the Guardian on the Snowden leaks.
The 2000 British law is designed to allow authorities to decide whether a suspect is involved in terrorism. It is entirely reasonable, then, that Miranda may have been swept up in a random check.
Except that it doesn't add up. According to the British government's own data reported by the Guardian, fewer than 3 of 10,000 people are examined. About 97 percent of those interviews last less than an hour. Less than 1 percent last 6 hours. Miranda's detention went on for three hours longer.
"[T]hey obviously had zero suspicion that David was associated with a terrorist organization or involved in any terrorist plot," Greenwald wrote. "Instead, they spent their time interrogating him about the NSA reporting which Laura Poitras, the Guardian and I are doing, as well the content of the electronic products he was carrying."
Greenwald's reporting revealed that the NSA's activities included warrantless seizure of telephone call data, email, Facebook posts and instant messages, as well as enormous amounts of raw Internet data. The NSA's goal, according to Greenwald and others, is to create a massive database.
Snowden, once a consultant for the NSA, faces U.S. espionage charges for his leaks and has been given temporary asylum in Russia, out of reach of American authorities. He has said that he fears what will happen to him if he's remanded to the custody of Western governments.
Given how the British government treated the family of a reporter over the weekend, it's no wonder.
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