The Guardian reports that the UK government is using anti-terrorism laws to intimidate citizens with no evidence that they are in any way connected to terrorism. Officers at Heathrow recently stopped an individual, David Miranda, whose domestic partner happens to be Glenn Greenwald, the man who interviewed whistleblower Edward Snowden and published articles about the NSA’s spying programs. The officers held Miranda for nine hours (the maximum allowable time period) and confiscated thousands of dollars of his personal affects. “Suspects” detained under this provision of the UK’s Terrorism Act (called “Schedule 7”) are compelled to cooperate with questioning or risk being arrested for “obstruction.”
Make no mistake, this is not diplomacy. This particular law has been on the books in the UK since 2000. It’s been suggested, with good reason, that most of its victims are racially profiled–that they “look” like terrorists. The detention of David Miranda was not naive racism by ignorant cops who should know better, it was intimidation, pure and simple. It was abuse of power for the purposes of cowing those who might dare threaten the very power being abused. We have every reason to be gravely concerned.