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David Miranda Challenges Schedule 7 Detention

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Thursday, November 7, 2013 at 6:31 PM

Today David Miranda, partner of Glenn Greenwald, was back at the Royal Courts of Justice to continue his suit against the home secretary and the Metropolitan police commissioner for his eight-hour, 55-minute detention at London’s Heathrow Airport on August 18. Miranda, a Brazilian national, was en route from Berlin to Rio de Janeiro after visiting filmmaker and Snowden leak affiliate Laura Poitras when he was detained, and his laptop, phone and electronic equipment were seized.

UK officials exercised detention authority under schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000, a powerful bit of legislation that permits port officers to detain and question travelers for up to nine hours to determine whether they might be terrorists.  About 60,000 passengers a year are questioned during schedule 7 port stops. Schedule 7 also allows the examining officer to search the detained person and any possessions. The detained have no right to counsel and no right to remain silent under the Act.

Or at least, until now. In a separate case decided yesterday on schedule 7 detention, the high court ruled that officials acted unlawfully when they detained and questioned Saudi Arabian national Abdelrazag Elosta at Heathrow without his solicitor present and threatened to arrest him when he refused to answer.
At a preliminary hearing last week, the high court was informed that the government had handed over to Miranda’s lawyers key documents relating to his detention, including a draft of the police’s internal port circulation sheet (PCS) which listed the reasons for Miranda’s detention. Here is the Guardian: “It said that ‘intelligence indicates that Miranda is likely to be involved’ in espionage activity that had the potential to ‘act against the interests of UK national security.’ Disclosure of the material he was carrying, it said, fell within the definition of terrorism.”
The Guardian also has the latest on the substance of the arguments put forth today:

On the second day of the hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice, lawyers for the Metropolitan police and Home Office defended their decision to detain Miranda, who is the partner of the former Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald.

Lawyers for the Met said they had “legitimate” concerns about how the encrypted material Miranda was carrying had been “arranged” as they feared all of the Edward Snowden material could be released, endangering lives.

The Brazilian national claims it was unlawful to stop him under schedule 7 on 18 August this year, denies that he was involved in terrorism and argues that his right to freedom of expression was curtailed.