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Alexandra Topping and Guardian staff | theguardian.com | Monday 19 August 2013 05.32 EDT   

Senior MP to seek explanation from police after detention of Glenn Greenwald's partner under the Terrorism Act

The chairman of the home affairs select committee has said he will write to police after the partner of the Guardian journalist who has written a series of stories revealing mass surveillance programmes by the US National Security Agency was held by UK authorities as he passed through London's Heathrow airport on his way home to Rio de Janeiro.

 - - - -

"It is an extraordinary twist to a very complicated story," Vaz told BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Monday. "Of course it is right that the police and security services should question people if they have concerns or the basis of any concerns about what they are doing in the United Kingdom.  What needs to happen pretty rapidly is we need to establish the full facts – now you have a complaint from Mr Greenwald and the Brazilian government. They indeed have said they are concerned at the use of terrorism legislation for something that does not appear to relate to terrorism, so it needs to be clarified, and clarified quickly."

Vaz said he was not aware that personal property could be confiscated under the laws. "What is extraordinary is they knew he was the partner [of Greenwald] and therefore it is clear not only people who are directly involved are being sought but also the partners of those involved," he said. "Bearing in mind it is a new use of terrorism legislation to detain someone in these circumstances [...] I'm certainly interested in knowing, so I will write to the police to ask for the justification of the use of terrorism legislation – they may have a perfectly reasonable explanation. But if we are going to use the act in this way ... then at least we need to know so everyone is prepared."

The Home Office has refused to comment on the detention of Miranda, stating that it was a matter for the police. In a brief statement, a Scotland Yard spokesperson said: "At 08:05 on Sunday, 18 August a 28-year-old man was detained at Heathrow airport under schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000. He was not arrested. He was subsequently released at 17:00."

There are more words arranged into meaningful sentences at the hyperlinked web posting.

Kieth Vaz

(born 26 November 1956 in Aden) is a British Labour Party politician and a Member of Parliament for Leicester East. He is the longest-serving Asian MP and has been the Chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee since July 2007. He was appointed as a member of the Privy Council in June 2006. He has been named among the most influential Asians in Britain.[1]
Meanwhile....Labour demands review of anti-terror powers
Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary, said ministers must find out whether anti-terror laws have been "misused", after Miranda was held for nine hours by authorities at Heathrow airport under the Terrorism Act.

His detention has caused "considerable consternation" and the Home Office must explain how this can be justified as appropriate and proportionate, she said.

 - - - -

"The police and security agencies rightly work hard to protect national security and prevent terrorism. But public confidence in security powers depends on them being used proportionately within the law, and also on having independent checks and balances in place to prevent misuse."

Her intervention comes after Brazil expressed "grave concern" about the detention of one of its citizens under anti-terror legislation. Its government said the detention of Miranda was without justification, as there are "no charges that can legitimate the use of that legislation". The Home Office has declined to comment, arguing it is a matter for Scotland Yard.

Yvette Cooper
Yvette Cooper (born 20 March 1969) is a British Labour Party politician who has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford since 2010, having previously been MP for Pontefract and Castleford since 1997. She served in the Cabinet between 2008 and 2010 under Prime Minister Gordon Brown as Chief Secretary to the Treasury and then as Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. She is currently the Shadow Home Secretary and Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities. She is married to fellow Labour politician Ed Balls.
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Comment Preferences

  •  Total Bullsh*t (4+ / 0-)

    Vaz was a minister in the Labour government when this legislation went through and was criticized for his support of their legislation allowing 42 days detention without trial (and considerable lack of access to lawyers or any outside contact at the start).

    He may well have changed spots since now he is Chair of the Home Office Select Committee which is re-examining this legislation anyway.

    Labour in both government and opposition since 1997 have been the ones calling for more and more draconian legislation in the name of "anti-terrorism" and crime fighting including wanting 90 days detention without trial, "voluntary" national identity cards (and the computer records that go with them) and this very legislation that Vaz now complains about.

    We will work, we will play, we will laugh, we will live. We will not waste one moment, nor sacrifice one bit of our freedom, because of fear.

    by Lib Dem FoP on Mon Aug 19, 2013 at 05:24:08 AM PDT

    •  Why is it BS? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ScienceMom, PhilJD

      Whether he was minister or not, it is Parliament that passes legislation (he was an MP at the time). But even that is immaterial - his question is about the application of the law.

      They indeed have said they are concerned at the use of terrorism legislation for something that does not appear to relate to terrorism, so it needs to be clarified, and clarified quickly."
      (from the quote in the diary)

      Paranoia strikes deep. Into your life it will creep. It starts when you're always afraid. You step out of line, the man come and take you away. - S. Stills

      by ask on Mon Aug 19, 2013 at 07:25:12 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •   (0+ / 0-)

        Vaz shot his mouth off before some pertinent factors became apparent - notably that Miranda was sent to Berlin to get data.  He was acting as Greenwald's agent/courier rather than simply being his emotional partner which is the spin being put on it.

        Vaz is not adverse to lying to Parliament - he was suspended for a week for doing so and making false statements about a policewoman.

        At the time of the passage of the 2000 Act, Vaz was Minister for Europe at the Foreign Office (which controls the Secret Intelligence Services). After his "resignation for health reasons" in 2001 he had to work hard to get back into Blair's good books hence the slavish support of repressive measures (worse than the 2000 Act) that were pushed through.

        We will work, we will play, we will laugh, we will live. We will not waste one moment, nor sacrifice one bit of our freedom, because of fear.

        by Lib Dem FoP on Mon Aug 19, 2013 at 08:34:40 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Oh in case you had not noticed (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Enzo Valenzetti

          Vaz has called for a review of the 2000 Act which is a bit strange considering he is the Chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee which is about to do just that. Perhaps he "forgot", like he seems to have forgotten contraversial sections of the Act which permits these searches, again despite his committee being about to examine the Act.  

          I am afraid I credit Vaz with more memory ability than he appears to display.

          The reality is that Labour has had a dreadful summer recess with its leader under the pressure of a semi-revolt and a total failure to lead the political agenda in the UK. Picking up the fuss is a boon, it's just the actual statements Vaz has made on this smack of hasty preparation, talking points prepared by PR people and a desperate opportunism.

          We will work, we will play, we will laugh, we will live. We will not waste one moment, nor sacrifice one bit of our freedom, because of fear.

          by Lib Dem FoP on Mon Aug 19, 2013 at 08:45:43 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Thanks for the response (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            ScienceMom

            Lots of detail on UK politics that I am unaware of and wrt individual MPs, very little. Even if his query to some extent may be opportunistic, I think the main thrust of it is whether the law has been properly applied.

            Paranoia strikes deep. Into your life it will creep. It starts when you're always afraid. You step out of line, the man come and take you away. - S. Stills

            by ask on Mon Aug 19, 2013 at 09:06:17 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  The Dungeon of London (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FishOutofWater, joe from Lowell

    is what Londoners call Heathrow.  Just a sidenote of interest.

    Even after a recent top-to-bottom overhaul, Heathrow is horribly designed, lacks adequate signs, it's dark, and what poorly-conceived lighting there is (including shadows and glaring) practically detracts from your travelling experience rather than adding to it.

    Heathrow is an efficient and effective modern airport, but it has an atmosphere that makes one feel like you've just emerged from solitary confinement the moment you step out into the street.

    When they call roll in the Senate, the Senators do not know whether to answer 'Present' or 'Not guilty'. --Teddy Roosevelt

    by thenekkidtruth on Mon Aug 19, 2013 at 05:24:59 AM PDT

  •  The lame attempted justifications for this move (16+ / 0-)

    are pretty comical at this point. Defenders are going against the grain of public opinion in their support for more a a security state world. I pity those that are so afraid of everything they would sacrifice not just their rights but yours too, so they can feel safe. Secrecy on steroids, ain't it great? Give me more of that "freedom" we all love so much.

    "A nation of sheep will beget a government of wolves." Edward R. Murrow

    by temptxan on Mon Aug 19, 2013 at 05:25:34 AM PDT

  •  why is it "extraordinary" (0+ / 0-)

    that once you are on the security apparatus' radar that they do in fact know everything about you?

    •  Rather more to the point (4+ / 0-)

      why was Miranda going through London? Paris and Madrid have better connections to Rio (as does Schipol I believe) even if the fare was paid for by the Guardian.

      If I were Miranda, I would be asking Greenwald some questions about being set up.

      We will work, we will play, we will laugh, we will live. We will not waste one moment, nor sacrifice one bit of our freedom, because of fear.

      by Lib Dem FoP on Mon Aug 19, 2013 at 05:46:21 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well, that's certainly a different take (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Cedwyn, NYFM

        on the subject. Not knowing anything about alternate European air routing, it never would have occurred to me.

        Fascinating....

        At least half the future I've been expecting hasn't gotten here yet. Sigh.... (Yes, there's gender bias in my name; no, I wasn't thinking about it when I signed up. My apologies.)

        by serendipityisabitch on Mon Aug 19, 2013 at 05:53:19 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  it's beyond me why he went through heathrow (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          serendipityisabitch, NYFM, ScienceMom

          if his destination was berlin.  why muck with england at all?  

          but what really blows me away about this is that miranda actually had documents of value with him?  are you !@#$%& kidding me?  my first reaction to the news that they had seized his laptop, etc., was "well, it's not like they'll find anything.  greenwald has to be too smart for that."

          Please don't dominate the rap, Jack, if you got nothin' new to say - Grateful Dead

          by Cedwyn on Mon Aug 19, 2013 at 07:03:22 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Actually, I'm not sure we do "know" much (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Cedwyn

            about the documents, except that fact that they were encrypted. Everybody's guessing at this point. If it was, indeed, a setup, they might have been an encrypted version of the Guardian stories that have already been published. That would be "Snowden material", yes?

            I gather he was coming from Berlin rather than going there. Did he go through Heathrow on his original flight, and not get stopped, or did he fly an alternate route? We don't know at this point. Makes it fun to speculate, but not very useful for drawing actual conclusions.

            At least half the future I've been expecting hasn't gotten here yet. Sigh.... (Yes, there's gender bias in my name; no, I wasn't thinking about it when I signed up. My apologies.)

            by serendipityisabitch on Mon Aug 19, 2013 at 07:13:32 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Since Poitras (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              serendipityisabitch, TheMomCat

              is a documentary film maker, I wonder if the "documents" were part of a video project that she is working on.  This is pure speculation, btw. I have no more information than anyone else.  We do know what she specializes in though.  And that is camera and video work.


              "Justice is a commodity"

              by joanneleon on Mon Aug 19, 2013 at 11:56:48 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Aw, phooey. If you've gotta go and be rational (0+ / 0-)

                about it, that would make more sense. Not nearly as much fun as speculating on an elaborate setup/scam, but more likely. ;)

                At least half the future I've been expecting hasn't gotten here yet. Sigh.... (Yes, there's gender bias in my name; no, I wasn't thinking about it when I signed up. My apologies.)

                by serendipityisabitch on Mon Aug 19, 2013 at 12:09:38 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  Finding a way (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            TheMomCat

            to blame the victim?


            "Justice is a commodity"

            by joanneleon on Mon Aug 19, 2013 at 11:51:04 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  His destination was Rio de Janeiro (0+ / 0-)

            The flight had a scheduled stop over in London. He never left the airport, so technically, he never entered England.


            "Information is power. But like all power there are those who want to keep it for themselves" Aaron Swartz, 1986 - 2013
            TheStarsHollowGazette.com

            by TheMomCat on Tue Aug 20, 2013 at 06:17:09 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  What does his travel routing (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ScienceMom, Anorish, joanneleon

        have to do with it? The MP's query is on the application of the law. Another diversion from you.

        Paranoia strikes deep. Into your life it will creep. It starts when you're always afraid. You step out of line, the man come and take you away. - S. Stills

        by ask on Mon Aug 19, 2013 at 07:26:52 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  This sounds a lot (0+ / 0-)

        like blaming the victim, Lib Dem FoP.


        "Justice is a commodity"

        by joanneleon on Mon Aug 19, 2013 at 11:51:44 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I Think That The British Could Have Gotten (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cedwyn, NYFM, joanneleon

    a legal search warrant to search Miranda's belongings to see if he was carrying classified documents that belonged to the US.  I don't think that terrorism was the right way to go.  I do think that if there are suspicions that Miranda was carrying classified material from the US the court ordered search warrant would have been legal.

    "Don't Let Them Catch You With Your Eyes Closed"

    by rssrai on Mon Aug 19, 2013 at 06:52:15 AM PDT

  •  So, from what I've been hearing... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cedwyn, serendipityisabitch, NYFM

    1. Poitras (sp) is detained regularly by the Brits.

    2. Snowden sent the encrypted info to her

    3. Miranda goes to visit Poitras.

    4. Miranda is probably carrying said encrypted info.

    5. The flight both of them choose out of a number of other options is one that is routed through Heathrow.

    Forgive me for sounding cynical, but there almost seems an element of they wanted this to happen.

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Mon Aug 19, 2013 at 06:58:39 AM PDT

    •  Poitras is no dumbass (0+ / 0-)

      No way she would send actual copies of the Snowden documents to Greenwald.  Why would she need to?  Without a doubt, both Poitras and Greenwald already have copies of the Snowden documents, or ready access to them, and others probably have copies, too, because Poitras is smart enough not to keep all the eggs in just one basket.  I'll let others make wild-assed guesses as to what was actually being transferred, but I'll guarantee it was not actual copies of Snowden documents because Poitras knows exactly how the intelligence agencies go about their business.

      Your final sentence may have truth within it.  Poitras is making a documentary, and this incident would be perfect to illustrate just how the UK and U.S. intelligence agencies are working together, and how far they are willing to go.  Some high-ups in the intelligence community may be candidates for supuku in the near future.  

    •  Then get a warrant (0+ / 0-)

      If there is reasonable suspicion, get a freaking warrant.

      If he was doing something wrong, arrest him.  But they didn't. They just tag teamed him with six British agents interrogating him for nine hours, and took all his electronic stuff.

      His laptop has been stolen before too, but nobody knows who did it.  While Greenwald was in Hong Kong, his laptop disappeared from their home.  It's not something that has happened to them before. And whoever it was only took the laptop. They didn't even try to make it look like a run of the mill robbery.


      "Justice is a commodity"

      by joanneleon on Mon Aug 19, 2013 at 12:00:42 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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