An outright attack on journalism took place in the U.K. at the offices of The Guardian on August 19, 2013, when the British government brazenly smashed all of the newspaper’s hard drives in an effort to stop any leaks of NSA related information from the Snowden files.
This follows Sunday’s events where the British government detained David Miranda and his partner, columnist Glenn Greenwald, at Heathrow airport. The U.S. government and President Obama were informed, but declined any responsibility.
The information was published by the editor of the Guardian, Alan Rusbridger, who published his account of what transpired over a two month period.
Greenwald broke the majority of the stories about the illegal NSA surveillance from Edward Snowden.
This information breaks the secrecy, and makes public the disturbing intelligence policies, and backdoor relationships between the governments and various corporations.
The pair was held for nine hours under schedule seven of the UK’s terror laws. These laws enable the government to detain anyone they deem or suspect to have connection with terrorists. These detainees have no rights in regard to legal representation. Property can be confiscated for up to seven days. In an airport, there is no protection, especially for a journalist and his evidence.
Rusbridger has been contacted by the British government on more than one occasion, demanding the files be turned over to them, or destroyed. Because of the sensitive nature of the information, as well as the predictable extent to which various government agencies will apparently go, he took measures in preparation for any difficulty by ensuring the information is in various international locations.
The British government made it quite clear that they will do what is necessary to ensure the files are returned or destroyed. Thus proceeding with the demolition of computer systems and hard drives to be sure there was nothing left or retrievable.
Because Greenwald is in Brazil, seizing the equipment and cell phones from London will have no effect on what Greenwald reports.
Amnesty International as well as multiple legal and non-legal entities and organizations are up in arms today over these events. A clear misues of U.K terror laws has been brought under the world’s spotlight once again. However, this time with more emphasis than could the Snowden files apparently, because this display was blatantly out in the open.
It is a disappointing, and dark day for journalists everywhere, whose job it is to report the news, without threat. All of the news, and the truth, especially in a time when some journalists have been told to report only what they are allowed to report. In the United States at least, this goes against the First Amendment, as noted below.
“The First Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances.”
The U.K. however, has a Bill of Rights that was passed in England in 1869, which includes freedom of speech.
It is sad that in this time in history, and in countries that are not considered third-world, a journalist must be concerned about writing the truth. Journalists have been warned today, to publish often and back up to multiple locations.
Rusbridger went on to say that “We will continue to do patient, painstaking reporting on the Snowden documents, we just won’t do it in London.”
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