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. Ozzie,

    I take your point … journalism is a business after all and manufactured “happenings” is a thought worth considering … which some of us have speculated on when we mentioned the possibility of Miranda being a decoy.

    However, if we consider the manufactured aspect, without the decoy for now, then the governments played right into the scripted plot which is more than just a little bit foolish. If we add the decoy scenario then we have 9 hours of concentrating on one detainee while any number of real couriers breezed on through.

    If either one of these possibilities are real then I submit that you and I should invite the agents in charge to a friendly game of poker.

    As to the lawyer offer … Miranda also turned down a glass of water waiting for 8 hours to get a can of soda out of a machine. That also fits nicely into the manufactured possibility with or without the decoy factor or … the dude simply didn’t trust the guys who had pulled him off his flight plan and stuck him in a room.

    As for the documents … come on … I bet you a quarter those documents are everywhere. I’m going to speculate that Snowden saw to that long before he managed to contact Poitras.

    If your suggestion of manufactured hype is real then we still get back to the problem our intelligence services can’t seem to grasp. A whole lot is wrong at the top. I’m beginning to wonder if one too many incompetent nieces/nephews, who should have been fired years ago, got kicked upstairs instead and are now running the whole show.

  2. ‘Sending a message’: what the US and UK are attempting to do
    State-loyal journalists seem to believe in a duty to politely submit to bullying tactics from political officials
    By Glenn Greenwald, Wednesday 21 August 2013

    Guardian editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger on Monday night disclosed the remarkable news that UK authorities, several weeks ago, threatened the Guardian UK with prior restraint if they did not destroy all of their materials provided by Edward Snowden, and then sent agents to the basement of the paper’s offices to oversee the physical destruction of hard drives. The Guardian has more details on that episode today, and MSNBC’s Chris Hayes interviewed the Guardian’s editor-in-chief about it last night. As Rusbriger explains, this behavior was as inane as it was thuggish: since this is 2013, not 1958, destroying one set of a newspaper’s documents doesn’t destroy them all, and since the Guardian has multiple people around the world with copies, they achieved nothing but making themselves look incompetently oppressive.

    But conveying a thuggish message of intimidation is exactly what the UK and their superiors in the US national security state are attempting to accomplish with virtually everything they are now doing in this matter. On Monday night, Reuters’ Mark Hosenball reported the following about the 9-hour detention of my partner under a terrorism law, all with the advanced knowledge of the White House:

    “One US security official told Reuters that one of the main purposes of the British government’s detention and questioning of Miranda was to send a message to recipients of Snowden’s materials, including the Guardian, that the British government was serious about trying to shut down the leaks.”

    I want to make one primary point about that. On Monday, Reuters did the same thing to me as they did last month: namely, they again wildly distorted comments I made in an interview – speaking in Portuguese, at 5:00 am at the Rio airport, waiting for my partner to come home -to manufacture the sensationalizing headline that I was “threatening” the UK government with “revenge” journalism.

  3. I would like to address the lawyer issue. A while back I went to hear the USG appointed attorney for KSM. During this talk he said KSM didn’t trust him. He then went on to describe the many crimes that KSM had admitted to committing such as killing JFK. After a list of really crazy confessions that naturally do occur when one is tortured (after all, the point of torture has always been to obtain a confession, not to get to the truth) the lawyer proceed to “confide” that KSM was guilty of planning 9/11. That was an important lesson to me in what it means to have access to the attorney of your choice, not the one a hostile, corrupt govt. appts. for you.

  4. Last one .. for now 😉

    David Miranda’s detention had no basis in law, says former Lord Chancellor

    Lord Falconer, who helped introduce Terrorism Act 2000, criticises home secretary’s backing of police action at Heathrow

    “The Metropolitan police had no legal basis to detain David Miranda under the Terrorism Act 2000, Tony Blair’s former lord chancellor has claimed.

    Lord Falconer of Thoroton, who helped introduce the bill in the House of Lords, said that the act makes clear that police can only detain someone to assess whether they are involved in the commission, preparation or instigation of terrorism.

    Falconer told the Guardian: “I am very clear that this does not apply, either on its terms or in its spirit, to Mr Miranda.”

    The peer, who served as solicitor general from 1997-98 and as lord chancellor from 2003-07, was highly critical of ……..”.

    Back in the US, an op-ed by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner :
    How Obama has abused the Patriot Act,0,1387481.story
    August 19, 2013

    “On Aug. 9, the Obama administration released a previously secret legal interpretation of the Patriot Act that it used to justify the bulk collection of every American’s phone records. The strained reasoning in the 22-page memo won’t survive long in public light, which is itself one of the strongest arguments for transparency in government….”

    It is very clear.
    Give the goons any powers and they will abuse those powers to the maximum. They will also overstep.

  5. The very clever — if not Machiavellian — Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, David Miranda, and the Guardian have apparently entrapped the naive U.S. and British governments into proving precisely why no one in their right mind would trust the U.S. and British governments with the power to operate in secret. Guaranteed abuse of the citizenry. Guaranteed.

    According to a report by NBC just awhile ago, U.S. government sources — unnamed, naturally — now confirm that the NSA doesn’t actually know what information Edward Snowden has available to share with a world that has every right and need to know it. So now the U.S. and UK governments not only look like panic-stricken thugs, but incompetent imbeciles as well.

    Those who will may defend this ludicrous, thuggish, bungling behavior, but something will come of this not at all to the liking of the ludicrous bungling thugs. The detention, browbeating for nine hours, and robbery of David Miranda by the British government — with the informed consent of the U.S. government — did not proceed upon the basis of any knowledge of what, if anything, David Miranda might actually know or have done in relation to anything having to do with “terrorism.” Therefore, the British and American governments had no legal basis for what they did and their actions constitute a crime against an innocent person. If courts and justice still exist in the UK, the people responsible for this crime will pay, and dearly.

    The fanatic, when he finds his way blocked, simply redoubles his efforts. So look for a lot of redoubled fanaticism from the Obama and Cameron administrations. They look really, really dumb, not to mention vicious and vindictive. And how “safe” can anyone feel with such dumb, vicious and vindictive people in charge of a nation’s “security”?

  6. OK. I’m on a roll 🙂

    The Stupidity Services

    Snowden needed a publisher.
    He tried Greenwald, but backed off because Greenwald had no infosec.

    He went to Poitras.
    How did he know about her and that she would have the high level of infosec that he needed his contact to use?

    The Stupidity Services made Poitras into the infosec-capable person that she is.
    She was making movies about subjects that were embarassing to the administration. They harassed her by abusing powers.
    For years, they detained her at every border crossing. Thye kept her for hours sometimes. They confiscated her electronics. They did it all in a ham-fisted bone-headed way. They woud not allow her to make notes of the questions. They said that her pen could be used a weapon to physically attack them. She asked if a crayon would be ok.
    Being a gifted communicator, she let the public know about the nonsense.

    There is no way that she would give anything to Miranda that could be ‘opened’. There is no way that she would give him any passwords. No way.
    The Stupidity Services effectively train their targets to evolve so as to be able to educate others on how to resist the Stupidity Services in the best possible way.

    Power corrupts they say. Power also makes people stupid.

  7. Ozzie: ” It all strikes me as rather manufactured – not for the first time for GG – it creates a huge hype for GG and lots of hits for The Guardian.”

    Would this not mean that the Intelligence Services are in fact the Stupidity Services?

    The best they are going to get out of it is a few hundred gigabytes of heavily encryped data. Unless they got really really lucky, their decendants would have to continue the decryption efforts.
    They would have known this in advance. They must be totally desperate to find out what Snowden has and what he has shared. The spook who authorised the detention is probably named Micawber.

    What they have done is to stick their penis in a hornets nest.
    In the UK, they’ve now got some high-profile UK legal figures drawing unwelcome attention to the over broad provisions and inappropriate use of the Terrorism Act.
    Worldwide, they look like a bunch of fascists.
    This is a cost-benefit fail. Not Intelligence.

  8. Ozzie: “Also, Miranda was not refused a lawyer – he refused a lawyer.

    Not quite so simple!
    Your problem there is maybe that you accept what the authorities say on all of this – and other matters. Try listening to both sides.

    This is a link to an image of a letter from Miranda’s lawyers to the Home Ofice.

    Paragraph 13 to 25 describe the Factual Background.
    This says that a lawyer was refused access to Miranda until just 1 hour before the 9 hour deadline expired.

    If Miranda was “refusing a lawyer” he would have been refusing to have his rights safeguarded by a stranger that the people detaining him had presented to him.
    He also had an issue that English is not his first language. I have heard that he and Greenwald speak Portugese to each other.
    No doubt he would have been asking for a lawyer and for the Brazilian Embassy, family, whatever to be contacted.
    It seems that the first to be notified was Greenwald – about 3 hours after Miranda was detained.

    From my general reading of legal blogs, it seems that the detention could have been illegal even under the very broad powers of the Terrorism Act.
    The detention is to determine if the subject is involved in terrorism. It should follow that any questioning would be related to terrorism. If the questioning can not be fairly be described as this, it would mean that the detention was illegal.

    The use of the full 9 hours detention is very exceptional.
    It means that for at least 9 hours, the UK questioned him in the belief that that he might be a terrorist.
    All of a sudden, 5 minutes before the time ran out, they decided that he was not a terrorist.

    It is clear that he was targeted in advance. The US had advance notice. They targeted him on the basis that he would be carrying ‘interesting’ material from Poitras to Greenwald. This was the “terrorism” involved.
    They would detain and question him in order to determine if he was involved in this terrorism.
    They appear to have taken a considerable time to determine that someone that they had already known a great deal about was not involved in this terrorism.
    Had they any reason to conclude that he was involved in this terrorism they would no doubt have arrested him. They should have arrested him as he stepped off the plane. At the very least they should have arrested him as soon as he confirmed that he had material given to him by Poitras for Greenwald.

    Any reasonable person would conclude that the detention under the Terrorism Act was simply an excuse to seize anything that Miranda was carrying.
    The full 9 hours detention was just vindictiveness combined with a fishing expedition to see if Miranda had passwords. He having passwords would be very unlikely in the circumstances.

  9. Blouise

    You have read that Miranda was carrying docs, right? And his ticket was paid for by the Guardian. That makes Miranda something more than a spouse. Let me pose this question. Say you were the journalist that needed to get some top secret government documents to Berlin and return with other information that is very damaging to the UK and the US and is a huge news story. Would you ask your college age granddaughter to do the job?

    GG is a very smart guy. He had to know he was putting Miranda in a tough spot. Everybody knows that this is real serious business – for all parties. GG should have gone himself or the Guardian could have sent some sweet little old lady to carry the docs. It all strikes me as rather manufactured – not for the first time for GG – it creates a huge hype for GG and lots of hits for The Guardian. Also, Miranda was not refused a lawyer – he refused a lawyer.

  10. AY,

    When intelligence officers start terrorizing journalists and their families then the officers have become that which they claim to despise.

    I found it extremely funny that the intelligence officers interrogating Miranda demanded that he give them their stuff back. Everything they have they took from somebody else …

  11. Elaine,

    I’d like to think not, but then I have a soft spot for intelligence officers. I wonder how many of the CIA torture officers have been promoted. The answer to that question would answer your post.

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