Miranda Rights

By DeusExMacintosh

David Miranda held at Heathrow under terror laws

No 10 was “kept abreast” of the decision to detain David Miranda, the partner of Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, a spokesman has said.

Mr Miranda was held at Heathrow for nine hours on Sunday, while in transit from Germany to Brazil. He has launched a legal challenge over the police’s use of anti-terror laws to detain him and seize his property.

But Home Secretary Theresa May said the police must act if someone had “highly sensitive stolen information”.

Mr Miranda, a 28-year-old Brazilian national, was held at Heathrow on his way from Berlin to Rio de Janeiro where he lives with Mr Greenwald. The Guardian said he had been carrying “journalistic materials” but was not an employee of the newspaper.

Mr Greenwald has broken most of the stories about state surveillance based on the leaks from fugitive Edward Snowden, who used to work at the US National Security Agency.

Mr Miranda said he was held in a room and questioned by six agents about his “entire life”. They confiscated his laptop, an additional hard drive, two memory sticks, a mobile phone, a smart watch and a video games console, his lawyers said.

He was required to divulge the passwords to his personal computers, phone and encrypted storage devices, they added.

BBC News


  1. derrida derider
    Posted August 22, 2013 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    He was required to divulge the passwords to his personal computers, phone and encrypted storage devices

    He sensibly divulged it, because they could undoubtedly have cracked it in time anyway. But had he refused, what powers would they have had to force him? Prosecution (under what law)? Indefinite detention till he talked? “Enhanced interrogation techniques”?

    For the lawyers here, I’m puzzled. The Anti-Terrorism Act gives them the power to do all this if they suspect he is carrying “material helpful to terrorists”. But how can they possibly morph that into “highly sensitive stolen information” that is actually merely embarrassing to a foreign government?

    Miranda is suing them – do you think he has a case?

  2. Posted August 22, 2013 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

    Actually DD, it’s now written into the law that you must surrender your passwords to the police on request. It’s a criminal offence in itself if you do not (possibly why it was the Met who detained him rather than someone from immigration or customs or airport security).

  3. Posted August 22, 2013 at 9:12 pm | Permalink


    I’m not really familiar with UK terrorism laws or human rights laws, but after some reading I suspect this may be the section they’d be questioning him about.

    58 Collection of information.
    (1)A person commits an offence if—
    (a)he collects or makes a record of information of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism, or
    (b)he possesses a document or record containing information of that kind.

    (3)It is a defence for a person charged with an offence under this section to prove that he had a reasonable excuse for his action or possession.

    As far as I can tell the only limitation on use of the power from schedule 7 of that act is the purpose the power is used for:

    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).

    (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).

    Section 40(1)(b) being about people who commit terrorist offenses, such as the one in section 58 I quoted above. I think it’d be reasonably easy to argue the detention was for the purpose of establishing if Miranda had any of Snowden’s information and what (if any) of that information would be likely of use to terrorists. That schedule also makes it mandatory to give any information and documents:

    5 A person who is questioned under paragraph 2 or 3 must—
    (a)give the examining officer any information in his possession which the officer requests;

    (c)declare whether he has with him documents of a kind specified by the examining officer;
    (d)give the examining officer on request any document which he has with him and which is of a kind specified by the officer.

    They could only hold him for 9 hours and it’s only identified as a summary offence (3 months gaol and/or £2500 fine), so he could have possibly been out on bail even if failed to answer or give passwords. Still, a conviction under the “Terrorism Act” is something one would rather want to avoid. As far as I can tell they could detain the Virgin Mary (or hell a 5 year old kid) and spend 9 hours going through every photo on her phone and every email on her laptop just to make absolutely sure they wouldn’t be useful for terrorists, and they would still be acting within that law.

    The main legal criticism seems to be based around the European Convention on Human Rights which only permits detention based on reasonable suspicion:

    Article 5 – Right to liberty and security
    1. Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. No one shall be deprived of his liberty save in the following cases…
    c. the lawful arrest or detention of a person effected for the purpose of bringing him before the competent legal authority on reasonable suspicion of having committed an offence…

    This is brought into force by the Human Rights Act:

    3 Interpretation of legislation.
    (1)So far as it is possible to do so, primary legislation and subordinate legislation must be read and given effect in a way which is compatible with the Convention rights.
    (2)This section—
    (a)applies to primary legislation and subordinate legislation whenever enacted;
    (b)does not affect the validity, continuing operation or enforcement of any incompatible primary legislation;

    I think it’ll come down to whether the UK court chooses to creatively read down the Terrorism Act to include some further restriction on the power than is found in the act itself, and then whether that restriction would apply to the facts of Miranda’s case. A key legal issue as I see it is whether the words “with or without grounds” in the Terrorism act makes it “incompatible” with the Convention (There’ll be a bunch of case law on this sort of question). Even if the court accepts the convention applies, there’s still the challenge of establishing that Miranda’s connection to Snowden’s leaks is not sufficient grounds for reasonable suspicion of him being in possession of that form of information. There is a “reasonable grounds” defence to the possession of information offence, so the media aspect may come into play if it comes down to the issue of “reasonable suspicion”.

    That’s about as far as I’ve gotten after a few hours, so I may have missed a few (or many) things.

  4. Posted August 23, 2013 at 7:47 am | Permalink

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    It seems my comment is being detained on suspicion of being spam…

  5. Posted August 23, 2013 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    [email protected] It has been released from detention with no spam-taint on its characteristics 🙂

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