It’s all very confusing, really.
A journalist’s partner is detained in Heathrow Airport for nine hours under terror laws and no one wants to explain why it happened. What’s this all got to do with Edward Snowden and what do the government have to say about the whole affair?
If you haven’t been following the very complicated story, which will presumably be made into a movie in the coming years, surrounding Edward Snowden – allow us to attempt to shed some light.
…seeking asylum in Hong Kong…
Let’s start somewhere near the beginning. Edward Snowden initially worked for the CIA and NSA and went on to leak top-secret information regarding America and Britain’s ‘mass surveillance programmes’. Quite embarrassing for the governments. Snowden ended up leaking some of this information to The Guardian newspaper, bear that in mind – we’ll come back to that later. In June of this year, the understandably peeved United States charged Mr Snowden with espionage and he fled the country, seeking asylum in Hong Kong, then Russia and now….well, we don’t really know. It’s thought that he’s hiding in a remote area of Russia, but no one can be sure.
So, what does the journalist’s partner have to do with anything? So, the journalist, Glenn Greenwald happens write for The Guardian. Coincidence? Maybe not. Brazilian, David Miranda, was arrested under the Terrorism Act of 2000 and was questioned for approximately nine hours before being released. He’d been in Berlin, meeting with Laura Poitras, a film maker who, with the help of Glenn Greenwald, had been working to publish Snowden’s leaked information. It all begins to add up now, doesn’t it?
…a matter of national security…
But what do the British government have to say about this strange 9-hour detention? According to The Independent, ‘a Washington official claimed the US was given a ‘heads-up’ by the British government that ‘something was likely to occour’, making Downing Street’s statement saying they played no part in the arrest but were ‘ kept abreast of the situation’ a little fishy. According to former shadow secretary David Davis, the government are playing the old ‘it’s a matter of national security card’ to get out of any awkward explanations. (Okay, he probably didn’t use those words, but you get the jist.)
So, what’s going to happen next? Well, that’s difficult to say. Many people now think that the whole David Miranda detention is a ploy to intimidate journalists, but is it likely this will deter them? According to the Home Office ‘if the police believe that an individual is in possession of highly sensitive stolen information that would help terrorism, then they should act.’ – so, that’s exactly what they did. Potentially the first of many incidents like this one, David Miranda appears to be the first person the government can tick off their list of Snowden’s allies.