UK: Chilling High Court decision upholds use of terrorism legislation against David Miranda

The High Court of England and Wales struck a blow against freedom of expression today when it ruled that the nine-hour detention of David Michael Miranda, partner of the former Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, under anti-terrorism legislation was lawful and proportionate. 

Brazilian national David Miranda was detained in August 2013 while in transit in London’s Heathrow airport. He was held for nearly nine hours under Schedule 7 of the UK’s Terrorism Act 2000 – the limit allowed without seeking further authority to continue the detention.

“This ruling underscores our long-standing concerns about the over-broad nature of the UK’s anti-terror laws, which are wide open to abuse and misuse,” said John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia Programme Director at Amnesty International.

“It is clearly deeply troubling if laws designed to combat terrorism can be used against those involved in reporting stories of fundamental public interest. There is no question the ruling will have a chilling effect on freedom of expression in the future.”

David Michael Miranda’s partner, the journalist Glenn Greenwald, analyzed and published information on documents disclosing sweeping, systematic and unlawful surveillance by the US and UK intelligence agencies. At the time he was detained, he was assisting in his partner’s investigative journalism.