Written by ECPMF Project Manager Jane Whyatt and originally published on ECPMF.EU
Britain's Court of Appeal has ruled that the UK's Terrorism Act is not compatible with human rights, and more protection is needed for journalists and their confidential sources and materials. Tags:
But the court ruled the authorities were justified in detaining reporter David Miranda at Heathrow airport and seizing his laptop and files.
It happened in 2013 when Miranda was working with Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras to publish secrets from Britain’s GCHQ and the US National Security Agency, leaked by the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.
Interviewed by ECPMF in 2015 as he launched a wordwide call for a new Treaty to outlaw mass surveillance, David Miranda said he was traumatised by the incident. He was held in solitary confinement for almost eight hours before being released and put on a plane to Brazil, where he works with Greenwald.
Hear the interview here .
ECPMF Legal Advisor Flutura Kusari welcomes the judgments and encourages other EU governments to provide adequate legislative and judicial safeguards for journalistic sources.
"By detaining David Miranda and seizing his journalistic materials, the UK has flagrantly endangered the confidentiality of journalistic sources involved in this case. In addition, this action has a far-reaching negative effect because it has set a bad example - especially for new democracies such as the South East Europe countries that often see the UK, Germany and Belgium as European states where freedom of expression is guaranteed and respected.
There is a tendency in several European countries to adopt harsher and stricter laws in the name of terrorism and it is clear that such justification is also being used to interfere with media freedom. This judgement should serve as an alarm. It should encourage governments across Europe to put in place proper safeguards for journalistic materials."
The case was brought by a group of human rights organisations including First Look Media (parent company of Glenn Greenwald’s online newspaper The Intercept ), Article 19 , English PEN and Liberty , the London-based human rights campaign.
Lawyer Katie Goold, of London firm Bindmans, represented David Miranda in court. She commented:
"The notion of a journalist becoming an 'accidental terrorist' has been whole-heartedly rejected. We welcome this court's principled and decisive ruling that Schedule 7 needs to come in line with other legislation to ensure that the seizure of journalistic material is protected by judicial safeguards."
Journalism is not terrorism