Schedule 7: English Police Hold Glenn Greenwald’s Partner For Nine Hours At Airport, Seize His Computer And Other Electronic Equipment

220px-Glenn_greenwald_portraitFor civil libertarians in the United States and England, it is increasingly difficult to distinguish the practices of our own governments and the countries that we routinely denounce as authoritarian. An example of this confusion can be found in the outrageous arrest of the partner of journalist Glenn Greenwald, the Guardian writer who brought the Snowden disclosures to light and a leading voice for civil liberties in the world. David Miranda, who lives with Greenwald, was taken into custody when passing through London’s Heathrow airport on his way home to Rio de Janeiro. He was held for nine hours and had his computer, cell phone and other equipment seized. Such stops can occur at the request of the National Security Agency and other agencies and are carried out under the abusive Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000. The case could also highlight possible surveillance of journalists in England and the United States.

The law allows police at airports, ports and border areas to stop, search, question and detain individuals for up to nine hours. Miranda, 28, was held obviously because he is the partner of Greenwald. Where 97% of people held under the law are held for less than an hour, they held Miranda for the full nine hours and confiscated his mobile phone, laptop, camera, memory sticks, DVDs and games consoles.


Miranda was reportedly  in Berlin to deliver Snowden related documents and to pass other documents from Laura Poitras, a documentary filmmaker, back to Greenwald.  The use of a loved one for such a function is obviously dangerous and most journalists avoid such involvement since the partner would not necessarily be protected as journalists.  The documents  were stored on encrypted thumb drives.  Greenwald says that the police informed him of an intent to arrest Miranda.

Notably, one defense might have been that Miranda was acting in a journalistic activity as a courier for Greenwald but Greenwald is quoted as saying that Miranda is not a journalist. The use of a loved one for such a job would create a dangerous ambiguity. However, it is also clear that the government is targeting a journalist and trying to obtain records of a journalist. Given the history of the Obama Administration in putting reporters under surveillance, there is a reasonable basis to suspect that wiretaps or other forms of surveillance have targeted Greenwald. How did they know to search the partner of Greenwald? I am surprised to see a non-journalist tasked with such a job if these accounts are true. However, these questions still remain as to whether the U.S. government is working with England to target journalistic records.

England has fewer protections for journalists, particularly under its controversial Crown laws. However, even the United States uses enhanced powers at borders and airports. The Supreme Court has adopted different rules governing such stops. The Metropolitan Police released a statement that “[h]olding and properly using intelligence gained from such stops is a key part of fighting crime, pursuing offenders and protecting the public.” The crime in this case would involve disclosures made by someone viewed as a whistleblower to a journalist. Many view Greenwald as protecting the public in performing his journalistic role. Even if Miranda was not viewed as a journalist as Greenwald appears to confirm, he would be viewed as a courier for a known journalist. Such couriers however are usually employees or contractors associated with the media. That difference may have encouraged this action by intelligence officials.

Most people are assuming the English were carrying out the demands of the NSA. Part of the motivation may be the search of the computer records and devices though the length of time has been denounced as harassment. Some members of Congress have called for Greenwald’s arrest. He is responsible for embarrassing a growing number of politicians, including President Obama and leading Democrats, who continue to be caught in false or misleading statements to the public. Unable to convince the public to simply embrace warrantless surveillance and demonize Snowden, the government appears to have adopted a scorched earth policy.

To add to the abuse, Miranda was denied a lawyer as authorities rifled through his computer files and belongings. Greenwald got the message: “[It] 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.” It certainly does, in my view, constitute an attack on the free press and raises the image of virtual hostage taking by the government.

The only thing missing is a few Guy Fawkes masks, “Finger” police, and the smiling face of Minister Peter Creedy to make the scene complete. “Schedule 7” even sounds like something that only Alan Moore could come up with.

What is most striking about Schedule 7 is how it is virtually without any standard or check on authority:


1(1)In this Schedule “examining officer” means any of the following—
(a)a constable,
(b)an immigration officer, and
(c)a customs officer who is designated for the purpose of this Schedule by the Secretary of State and the Commissioners of Customs and Excise.
(2)In this Schedule—
“the border area” has the meaning given by paragraph 4,
“captain” means master of a ship or commander of an aircraft,
“port” includes an airport and a hoverport,
“ship” includes a hovercraft, and
“vehicle” includes a train.
(3)A place shall be treated as a port for the purposes of this Schedule in relation to a person if an examining officer believes that the person—
(a)has gone there for the purpose of embarking on a ship or aircraft, or
(b)has arrived there on disembarking from a ship or aircraft.

Power to stop, question and detain

2(1)An examining officer may question a person to whom this paragraph applies for the purpose of determining whether he appears to be a person falling within section 40(1)(b).
(2)This paragraph applies to a person if—
(a)he is at a port or in the border area, and
(b)the examining officer believes that the person’s presence at the port or in the area is connected with his entering or leaving Great Britain or Northern Ireland [or his travelling by air within Great Britain or within Northern Ireland].
(3)This paragraph also applies to a person on a ship or aircraft which has arrived at any place in Great Britain or Northern Ireland (whether from within or outside Great Britain or Northern Ireland).
(4)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).

My favorite part is the last line: “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).”

The actions taken against Miranda were intended to send a message to Greenwald and other journalists that their families will not be protected from repercussions in such controversies. Indeed, the crude tactics conveyed a menacing message that the government is not concerned with public outcry or any notion of checks on its actions. You will note that no one in Congress has demanded to know if American officials were involved in this abusive action. Scotland Yard refused to answer any questions beyond confirmed that Miranda was held in custody. The message to citizens seems clear: Challenge the government at your own peril . . . and that of your loved ones.

Source: Guardian

179 thoughts on “Schedule 7: English Police Hold Glenn Greenwald’s Partner For Nine Hours At Airport, Seize His Computer And Other Electronic Equipment”

  1. Exactly. They are simply trying to give the APPEARANCE of actively complying with the Fourth Amendment. Of course, they really don’t give a shit…. The Constitution is getting in the way of their totalitarian wet dreams.


    Most of the incidents, officials said, were self-reported. Such admissions can arise, for example, when an employee takes a polygraph tests as part of a renewal of a security clearance.

    What this means is that they don’t have or review audit trails of how their people use the system.
    It means that there is no individual authorizarion for a search on an individual. There is no check that a particular search is actually related to a case.

    THe NSA say “only a small number” – but that’s just the one that they happened to stumble across.

  3. No sooner do I type a line of Haiku about government spying on the sex lives of “persons of interest” than the Wall Street Journal reports that the practice as its very own acronym, LOVEINT.

    I wonder how much longer we will have to wait until Americans give up the self-deluding pretexts and start referring honestly to our government as a “corporate contractor.”

  4. I admit to laughing very hard when reading Glenn Greenwald’s most recent article entitled, “Snowden: UK government now leaking documents about itself.” Especially this:

    “The Independent’s Oliver Wright just tweeted the following:

    “For the record: The Independent was not leaked or ‘duped’ into publishing today’s front page story by the Government.”

    “… today’s front page story by the Government,” indeed. It really pays to place prepositional phrases properly within a sentence. Otherwise, one might say what one really means.

  5. Did the U.S./U.K. just fall for a clever ruse in publicly jumping all over David Miranda while the actual materials of interest traveled another route to their intended destination?

    President Evo Morales of Bolivia smuggling Edward Snowden out of Russia? Strike One.

    David Miranda smuggling NSA documents out of Germany through Airstrip One to Brazil? Strike Two.

    Someone looks really thuggish and stupid here, and I do not mean a mere handful of journalists and a few newspapers. If the New York Times does nothing more than report that it somehow got hold of documents that the U.S./U.K. just buggered themselves twice trying to intercept, then the New York Times has done some real journalism for a change.

    Lost and Found

    You’ve had your debate.
    No need for you to write more.
    We want our stuff back

    Michael Murry, “The Misfortune Teller”

  6. There is something very odd in the stories about what material was on Miranda’s devices.

    This story implies that a significant amount (at least) of files were not encrypted – or maybe encrypted with a key known to Miranda.
    He certainly seems to have surrendered his own personal passwords under threat of imprisonment.

    Police are examining tens of thousands of documents which David Miranda had stored on his laptop and other electronic devices when he was stopped and held for nine hours under counter-terrorism laws.

    Officers from Scotland Yard’s counter-terrorism command, SO15, have yet to complete their examination of the material but they believe its disclosure would be “gravely injurious to public safety”, a court heard.

    Jonathan Laidlaw QC, appearing for Scotland Yard to oppose a legal challenge by Mr Miranda, said: “That which has been inspected contains, in the view of the police, highly sensitive material the disclosure of which would be gravely injurious to public safety and thus the police have now initiated a criminal investigation.

    “I am not proposing to say anything else which might alert potential defendants here or abroad to the nature and the ambit of the criminal investigation which has now been started.”

    He added that the material amounted to “tens of thousands of highly classified UK documents”.

    …….. more….

    It’s clear to anyone who knows about her that Poitras would not transport unencrypted files. In fact she prefers to wipe all devices clean. She has also had other people carry devices for her.

    The article implies that police are looking at unenctyped/decrypted material.

    It’s difficult to imagine that disclosure of information would be directly “gravely injurious to public safety”. Perhaps this is just standard lawyerly talking up of a case.

    The last line quoted is interesting.
    ” tens of thousands of highly classified UK documents”.
    If these are documents of UK origin, then they are one of:
    1) highly classified UK documents shared by the UK with the NSA
    2) highly classified UK documents stolen by the NCA
    3) highly classified UK documents supplied to Poitras/Greenwald by some other source.

    Conspiracy theory:

    Assuming that Miranda did in fact carry “tens of thousands of highly classified UK documents” – that the UK police could read direct or decrypt given a key……
    Miranda flies via the UK, and gets stopped. The UK police can read direct or decrypt given a key……
    The UK have now been shown material in possession of Poitras-Grenwald-Others. The material might or might not end up being disclosed – depending.

    One might consider that if such was the intention, then the material could have been sent directly to the UK authorities – like a CD in the post to the Home Office or whatever, with the key being somehow transmitted separately.
    ‘Accidental’ delivery by hand via Miranda would be very secure.

    Intentional delivery might be taken as a direct blackmail proposition.
    Are games being played?

  7. “A whole lot is wrong at the top.” -Blouise

    Basically, the top has reached the bottom – and is digging.

  8. Blouise,

    I’d laugh, if it weren’t so f’ing tragic. (Thanks for a classic reminder of the way that things seem to work…)

  9. Blouise,

    Nepotism? Nah! That never happens in Washington.

    This message brought to you by the National Sarcasm Society – “Like We Need Your Support”



    I must say that although I’m not big on poetry about politics as a general rule, I’m rather enjoying some of your short form work.

  10. “A whole lot is wrong at the top.” -Blouise

    And it’s much worse than most people realize. Much worse.

  11. Jill 1, August 21, 2013 at 10:38 am

    don’t forget to add: 23 year old boy given 35 year sentence for exposing war crimes. All hail the chief. Jesus this is horrible.

    Good poem Michael.



    A couple of pieces by Matt Sledge:

    “Bradley Manning Headed To Prison, While Those Who Presided Over Torture Go Free”

    “Bradley Manning Uncovered U.S. Torture, Abuse, Soldiers Laughing As They Killed Innocent Civilians”

  12. Blouise,

    Parkinson’s Law meets the Peter Principle. You know:

    “The work will expand to fill the time allotted for its completion” and “people tend to rise to their level of incompetence.” The two Iron Laws of Bureaucracy. No exceptions. “Keeping us Safe”? I don’t think so.

    Even I keep several copies of personal files on more than one web site and on several personal computers, recorded CDs and DVDs, and paper print-outs. To think that professional journalists wouldn’t have even more kinds of copies — all heavily encrypted — defies belief. So what did the British hope to accomplish by publicly robbing David Miranda of some files that others also have in multiple, secured locations?

    We’ve all heard of government entrapping citizens and then springing a bust on them just to make the FBI or some local prosecutor look good. But having citizens entrap the government goons into looking like their true selves, well, that sounds just too delicious. Unlawful and Stupid. Not a confidence-building combination.

  13. don’t forget to add: 23 year old boy given 35 year sentence for exposing war crimes. All hail the chief. Jesus this is horrible.

    Good poem Michael.

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