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UK authorities press to get hold of Snowden affair’s documents

28 August, 2013
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The echoes of the PRISM affair keep growing. On 21 August 2013, Secretary general Thorbjorn Jagland of the Council of Europe, addressed a letter to UK home secretary Theresa May asking for explanations regarding UK’s recent actions following the PRISM scandal.

Jagland was especially referring to the retention at Heathrow airport, on 17 August 2013, of David Miranda, the partner of the Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, for the documents exposing the mass digital surveillance Miranda was carrying and which were, considered by the Metropolitan police as "highly sensitive material the disclosure of which would be gravely injurious to public safety".

Miranda's lawyer in this case told the court that anti-terror laws had been misused to justify obtaining confidential journalistic information, thus avoiding the legal procedures allowing authorities to do that only with explicit safeguards.

Several European newspapers have warned that Miranda’s detention and criminal investigation threatens to undermine the position of the free press around the world. In an open letter, the editors of several European newspapers call on Prime Minister David Cameron, minister to "reinstall your government among the leading defenders of the free press": "We are surprised by the recent acts by officials of your government against our colleagues at the Guardian and deeply concerned that a stout defender of democracy and free debate like the United Kingdom uses anti-terror legislation in order to legalise what amounts to harassment of both the paper and individuals associated with it," says the letter which adds that "the implication of these acts may have ramifications far beyond the borders of the UK, undermining the position of the free press throughout the world".

Earlier on, according to Alan Rusbridger, the editor of the Guardian newspaper, the British authorities forced the newspaper to destroy material leaked by Edward Snowden, the former CIA employee. Rusbridger also stated that a month before, a British official had advised him to stop publishing news articles based on Snowden's leaked material and the newspaper was threatened with legal action by the government unless it destroyed or handed over the material from Snowden. Further on, two "security experts" from Government Communications Headquarters, arrived at the Guardian's London offices to oversee the destruction of computers having contained Snowden’s material.

David Miranda wins partial court victory over data seized by police (22.08.2013)
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/aug/22/david-miranda-court-victo...

David Miranda's detention is a threat to press freedom, say European editors (24.08.2013)
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/aug/24/david-miranda-detention-g...

European rights watchdog queries UK on Snowden affair (22.08.2013)
http://euobserver.com/justice/121174

UK requests destruction of sensitive Snowden files, EU silent (20.08.2013)
http://www.euractiv.com/print/uk-europe/uk-authorities-destroy-sensiti...

Statewatch Observatory - EU-USA: Data surveillance
http://statewatch.org/eu-usa-data-surveillance.htm

 

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