Debate: Were border officials right to detain David Miranda under the Terrorism Act?


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The Independent Online


What's going on?

David Miranda is preparing a legal challenge over his detention at Heathrow Airport under terror legislation, the Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger has said.

Mr Miranda, 28, was detained at Heathrow Airport for nine hours under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000 as he changed planes on a journey from Berlin to his home in Rio de Janeiro.

Mr Miranda, the partner of the Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, claimed he was detained by agents who questioned him about his "entire life" and took his "computer, video game, mobile phone, my memory card - everything".

Was this an abuse of power?

Case for: Bullying

David Miranda is not a journalist. What Glenn Greenwald is doing is not terrorism, and nothing he has published - or authorities at Heathrow have seized - could conceivably aid terrorism. So what do we have here? A pretext to detain a foreign national? Pah. The Home Office has been embarrassed by revelations that it shares data concerning UK citizens with the NSA in America - at a level previously beyond democratic oversight - and it is now cravenly trying to put the rabbit back in the hat. We have a right to know how far state snooping extends. This is a foul and worrying clampdown on necessary reporting.

Case against: Security

If the information held by the Guardian could not - in any way - be damaging to the UK, why do you think UK authorities demanded the destruction of hard drives on Guardian premises? They don't go around doing that kind of thing for fun. David Miranda, we can therefore assume, was carrying highly sensitive and potentially damaging information to Glenn Greenwald. The authorities have every right to intervene. And the excuse that Miranda isn't a journalist? That's just a perfect set-up. Send in a man who can feasibly claim to be a pawn - when in fact his ticket was paid for by the paper.