Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 26 July 2014

Snowden affair: PM David Cameron told Heywood to 'warn Guardian of serious consequences'

Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, right, and his partner David Miranda (AP/Janine Gibson, The Guardian)
Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger said his paper had destroyed a hard drive under supervision of GCHQ officers

Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood was directed by the Prime Minister to contact the Guardian about the classified material handed over by Edward Snowden, it has been reported.

The intention was to spell out the serious consequences of continuing to publish material about UK and US intelligence operations, the Independent said.

Earlier, Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger revealed his newspaper had destroyed a hard drive containing a copy of the secret documents under the supervision of GCHQ officers following sustained pressure from Government.

The fresh claims about Number 10's role followed earlier confirmation by Home Secretary Theresa May that she had been briefed in advance about the possible detention of David Miranda, partner of Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, at Heathrow Airport.

The Home Office and Metropolitan Police have insisted the actions of officers at the airport were proper and Mrs May yesterday said it was vital officers retained operational independence.

And a spokesman said Number 10 was "kept abreast of the operation in the usual way" but denied any political involvement in the decision, adding: "The Government does not direct police investigations."

In a BBC interview about the detention of Mr Miranda, Mrs May said: "If it is believed that somebody has in their possession highly sensitive stolen information which could help terrorists, which could lead to a loss of lives, then it is right that the police act and that is what the law enables them to do."

But the Home Secretary, who has come under pressure to explain how much the Government knew about the planned detention of Mr Miranda after the White House said it had been given a "heads up", said there were safeguards in place to make sure such arrests were conducted properly.

She told the BBC: "I was briefed in advance that there was a possibility of a port stop of the sort that took place.

"But we live in a country where those decisions as to whether to stop somebody or arrest somebody are not for me as Home Secretary, they are for the police to take, that's absolutely right that they have their operational independence and long may that continue."

She went on: "We have a very clear divide in this country, and I think that's absolutely right, between the operational independence of the police and the policy work of politicians.

"I as Home Secretary do not tell the police who they should or should not stop at ports or who they should or should not arrest.

"I think it's absolutely right that that is the case, that the police decide who they should stop or not and whether they should arrest somebody or not.

"That's their operational independence. I'm pleased that we live in a country where there is that separation."

Mr Miranda was detained at Heathrow Airport under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000 as he changed planes on a journey from Berlin to his home in Brazil.

He claimed he was held for nine hours by agents, who questioned him about his "entire life" and took his "computer, video game, mobile phone, my memory card - everything".

Schedule 7 applies only at airports, ports and border areas, allowing officers to stop, search, question and detain individuals.

Its use has been criticised by Mr Greenwald - the reporter who interviewed American whistleblower Edward Snowden - as a "profound attack on press freedoms and the news-gathering process", and has sparked concern on the use of terror laws.

Mrs May said the Government continued to review counter-terrorism legislation and would be making some changes to Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act, but said it was an important power, something made clear by both the current independent reviewer of terrorism legislation David Anderson QC, as well as his predecessor Lord Carlile.

The Home Secretary's comments come after the Home Office came out in support of the police's decision to detain Mr Miranda, who has launched legal action over his detention.

A Home Office spokesman said: "The Government and the police have a duty to protect the public and our national security.

"If the police believe that an individual is in possession of highly-sensitive stolen information that would help terrorism, then they should act and the law provides them with a framework to do that.

"Those who oppose this sort of action need to think about what they are condoning."

Lawyers for Mr Miranda have written to both Mrs May and Britain's most senior police officer challenging the legality of the decision to detain him for nine hours using Schedule 7.

Law firm Bindmans said it has sent a letter to Mrs May and to Met Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe asking for explanation of who requested, and for what purpose, police seized sensitive journalistic material from him.

They have also demanded assurances that none of the material will be disclosed or shared or used, and if guarantees are not given will apply for an injunction, the company said.

Criminal lawyer Kate Goold, from Bindmans, said: "We are most concerned about the disproportionate way in which these powers were used and the chilling effect this may have on freedom of expression."

Solicitor Gwendolen Morgan, who is representing Mr Miranda in the public law challenge, has written to Mrs May and Sir Bernard calling for assurances that "there will be no inspection, copying, disclosure, transfer, distribution or interference, in any way", with the disputed information until the case has been determined by the court.

She said: "Our client is entitled to undertakings that journalistic material which has been seized unlawfully will not be disclosed or shared or used.

"The same applies if any other public authority or third party - either domestic or foreign - has been granted possession or access to the material and our client is entitled to know who they are.

"The apparently cavalier way in which journalistic privileges have been breached is extremely troubling."

The firm said that without such guarantees, it will apply for an injunction and ask the court to consider a judicial review as a matter of urgency this week.

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper earlier demanded that Mrs May say whether she or the Prime Minister were informed about the decision to detain Mr Miranda, after a White House spokesman said they had been given a "heads up" on the move.

Ms Cooper said: "If the police and Government had a different purpose in detaining David Miranda for nine hours they need to say so, and set out what their legal justification was."

Scotland Yard has defended the detention as "legally and procedurally sound" but Mr Anderson has asked for an official briefing on the arrest, which he described as an "unusual case".

The incident continued to cause concern, with a petition launched by Four Lions actor Adeel Akhtar calling for the Government to look urgently at terrorism laws used to detain Mr Miranda backed by more than 40,000 names.

Lib Dem home affairs spokesman Julian Huppert said Mr Miranda's detention was "not acceptable" and "a clear abuse of terrorism powers".

He said: "The independent reviewer of terrorism legislation is already looking into this, and the Home Affairs Select Committee will also do so. I hope that their comments will further strengthen our longstanding call to reverse the overreach of these pieces of legislation."

Theresa May warned over press freedom

The state-supervised destruction of a newspaper's hard drives and the detention of a journalist's partner under terror laws could have a "chilling effect" on press freedom, the head of Europe's top human rights organisation has warned the Home Secretary.

In an intervention more often directed at countries such as Turkey and Russia, the secretary general of the Council of Europe,Thorbj0rn Jagland, has written to Theresa May asking her to explain how the actions were compatible with Britain's obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights.

"These measures, if confirmed, may have a potentially chilling effect on journalists' freedom of expression as guaranteed by Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights," he wrote.

"I would therefore be grateful to you if you could provide information on these reports and comment on the compatibility of the measures taken with the United Kingdom's obligations under the Convention."

The Guardian destroyed a hard drive containing a copy of the secret documents leaked by US whistleblower Edward Snowden under the supervision of GCHQ officers

It agreed to the move following sustained pressure from Government, with Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood directed by the Prime Minister to contact the newspaper about the classified material.

Mrs May said it was the "right and proper" action in the circumstances.

"If Government believes information that could be of help to terrorists is potentially being held insecurely, could fall into the wrong hands, I think it is right the Government should act," she said.

And Foreign Secretary William Hague said there was a clear "duty" to intervene.

The plan was approved by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg whose spokesman said he considered it a "preferable approach to taking legal action".

But Labour's Keith Vaz said the actions were"unprecedented" and called on the Prime Minister to make a "full statement" to Parliament on the day it returns after the summer break.

'Wrong powers used' in Miranda case

A former Lord Chancellor has said police used the wrong powers to detain David Miranda at Heathrow and insisted the Government should have used legal means to retrieve stolen data from the Guardian.

Lord Falconer, who held the office under Tony Blair between 2003 and 2007, said the use of Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000 was only right where officers suspected the person involved was a terrorist.

And the Labour peer told the BBC Radio 4 World At One programme it was vital the Government acted both competently and within the bounds of the law.

But later on the same programme, Home Secretary Theresa May defended the actions in both instances - warning the Government's first duty always had to be the protection of the public and national security.

Discussing the detention of Mr Miranda, Lord Falconer said: "If you know they are not a terrorist you can't use these powers. The justification given by the Home Secretary doesn't look right.

"She is saying there is a concern about national security and the items they are worried about might have been stolen. All of these things might be right but using a power which is to determine whether someone is a terrorist when you know they are not is not the way to deal with that.

"There are other powers which have protections for the citizen which could have been used instead.

"The risk of the material falling into the wrong hands or the risk of it encouraging terrorism can be dealt with by other means - for example getting an injunction to restrain its use, for example getting an injunction for it to be handed over.

"All of those provisions would give the Guardian the opportunity to argue why that shouldn't happen. If the Government are so concerned about this - and I can understand they might be - use the powers competently and in accordance with the law."

But Mrs May defended the actions of the police and insisted the actions had been taken to protect national security.

She said: "It is an operational decision of the police as to whether they stop someone under Schedule 7 of the 2000 Terrorism Act. Obviously the Metropolitan Police have looked at that, they are clear in their statements they believe they were legally entitled to do that.

"And I believe indeed it is the case that the Government's prime duty is to protect the public, to keep the public safe and secure.

"It is right if the police believe someone has in their possession highly sensitive stolen information that could help terrorists that could lead to a loss of life, it's right the police should act. I believe Schedule 7 of this Act enables police to do that."

Nick Clegg approved data plea

Nick Clegg approved plans ordering a top civil servant to call on the Guardian to destroy classified data in the interest of national security, according to his spokesman.

The Deputy Prime Minister was "keen to protect" the newspaper's freedom to publish but backed the move, ordered by David Cameron, because it was "preferable" to taking legal action.

Home Secretary Theresa May insisted asking Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood to contact The Guardian about classified material handed over by Edward Snowden was "right and proper".

But Labour's Keith Vaz said the actions were "unprecedented" and called on the Prime Minister to make a "full statement" to Parliament on the day it returns after the summer break.

"The actions of the Cabinet Secretary are unprecedented and show that this issue has reached the highest levels of government," the Home Affairs select committee chairman said.

"Up until now, the UK Government has downplayed its interest in these matters but it's clear that they have taken a proactive stance, not just in terms of the destruction of the information held by the Guardian but also the involvement of those journalists who have written about Edward Snowden."

The intervention ordered by No 10 came to light following the detention at Heathrow Airport under terror laws of David Miranda, partner of Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald who has worked with Mr Snowden on a series of security services exposes.

Scotland Yard and the Home Office have insisted the actions of officers at the airport were proper.

A spokesman for the Deputy Prime Minster said: "The independent reviewer of terrorism legislation is already looking into the circumstances around the detention of David Miranda and we will wait to see his findings.

"On the specific issue of records held by the Guardian, the Deputy Prime Minister thought it was reasonable for the Cabinet Secretary to request that the Guardian destroyed data that would represent a serious threat to national security if it was to fall into the wrong hands.

"The Deputy Prime Minister felt this was a preferable approach to taking legal action. He was keen to protect the Guardian's freedom to publish, whilst taking the necessary steps to safeguard security."

Mr Miranda was detained at Heathrow Airport under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000 as he changed planes on a journey from Berlin to his home in Brazil.

He claimed he was held for nine hours by agents, who questioned him about his "entire life" and took his "computer, video game, mobile phone, my memory card - everything".

Schedule 7 applies only at airports, ports and border areas, allowing officers to stop, search, question and detain individuals.

Its use has been criticised by Mr Greenwald - the reporter who interviewed Mr Snowden - as a "profound attack on press freedoms and the news-gathering process", and has sparked concern on the use of terror laws.

Foreign Secretary William Hague said: "The Government clearly has a duty if information is held insecurely and could be damaging to our national security to try to make sure that it is recovered or destroyed.

"It's a very simple matter."

Mrs May told BBC Radio 4's The World At One that it was right that senior members of the Government have been involved in recent days.

She said: "Issues of national security are rightly addressed at an appropriate level within Government. I do not find it surprising somebody at a very senior level within Government should be involved in this particular issue.

"I think it is right and proper the Government had those discussions with the Guardian, that the action that was taken was taken.

"If Government believes information that could be of help to terrorists is potentially being held insecurely, could fall into the wrong hands, I think it is right the Government should act.

"I don't find it strange that should be done at a senior level."

Court to hear Miranda airport case

22 AUGUST 2013

Lawyers acting for the partner of a journalist held for nine hours under anti-terror laws will take his case to the High Court today.

They have applied for an injunction preventing the police or government using, copying and sharing data from electronic devices seized from David Miranda during his detention.

Two judges will also hear their argument that Mr Miranda's detention at Heathrow Airport was a misuse of Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000 and breached his human rights.

The Brazilian is the partner of Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald who has worked with US whistleblower Edward Snowden on a series of security services exposes.

He was held without charge for the maximum time permitted under the anti-terror legislation as he changed planes on a journey from Berlin to his home in Brazil.

Scotland Yard says the detention was "legally and procedurally sound" but that is disputed by Mr Miranda's lawyers and has been questioned by a former Lord Chancellor.

Lord Falconer, who helped introduce the law, insisted the powers were designed to be used against those suspected to be terrorists.

But Home Secretary Theresa May said the police were right to act if they believed Mr Miranda was in possession of material - that he was carrying for Mr Greenwald - that could be useful to terrorists.

"If the police believe someone has in their possession highly sensitive stolen information that could help terrorists that could lead to a loss of life, it is right the police should act," she said.

"I believe schedule 7 of this act enables police to do that."

The Guardian said the injunction would seek to prevent the use of data taken from the laptop, phone and other electronic equipment confiscated from Mr Miranda at the airport.

Gwendolen Morgan, of Bindman Partners, told the newspaper the legal action had been taken because the authorities had failed to give sufficient guarantees.

Lawyers are expected to argue that the police exceeded their powers by detaining a transit passenger who had not formally entered the UK.

They say in their submission that Mr Miranda was "subjected to intensive, wide-ranging and intrusive questioning...but he was not asked, nor was it suggested - that he was involved with terrorist groups, organisations or terrorist activity", the newspaper reported.

He was warned that a failure to co-operate could result in him being jailed.

The case is already being looked into by David Anderson, the independent reviewer of anti-terror laws.

Downing Street was aware of the planned detention but insists there was no political involvement in the decision - which was also communicated to the White House.

A poll found that while most voters (66%) backed the need for the powers used to detain Mr Miranda, only 37% thought it was right to use them on the grounds he might have data useful to terrorists.

The survey by YouGov showed the public thought it unreasonable to threaten him with jail for not disclosing passwords, by 47% to 38%, and half said his computer and phone should have been handed back when he was released.

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