UK Court: Gov’t granted wider inspection of encrypted intelligence files seized from Glenn Greenwald partner
A British court has extended the powers for police to examine files seized from David Miranda, partner of Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, after both sides came to an agreement on the matter.
From The Guardian:
The high court has granted the Metropolitan police extended powers to investigate whether crimes related to terrorism and breaches of the Official Secrets Act have been committed following the seizure of data at Heathrow from David Miranda, the partner of a Guardian journalist.
At a hearing in front of Lord Justice Laws and Mr Justice Kenneth Parker, lawyers for Miranda said they had agreed to the terms of wider police powers to investigate a hard drive and memory sticks containing encrypted material that were seized on 18 August. Previously the inspection had been conducted on the narrower grounds of national security.
Following the court ruling, the police will now be allowed to examine the material to investigate whether a crime of “communication of material to an enemy” has been committed as well as possible crimes of communication of material about members of the military and intelligence services that could be useful to terrorists.
Miranda was questioned for nearly nine hours earlier this month after he was detained at a London airport while carrying the files on his route back from Germany to his home in Rio de Janeiro, where he lives with Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald. Miranda had been visiting Greenwald’s collaborator Laura Poitras, the US filmmaker who produced the video interview that unmasked Edward Snowden to the world as the source of the NSA surveillance program leaks. Authorities had seized the materials during the course of Miranda’s detention.
The court earlier granted the UK authorities temporary access to the materials under the exception of investigating national security matters.
The Telegraph reports that among the materials that had been seized from Miranda was also a piece of paper that included a password for decrypting one of the encrypted files, though it’s unclear whether or not that was one of multiple required passwords.
Oliver Robbins, the deputy national security adviser for intelligence, security and resilience in the Cabinet Office, said in his 13-page submission: “The information that has been accessed consists entirely of misappropriated material in the form of approximately 58,000 highly classified UK intelligence documents.
“I can confirm that the disclosure of this information would cause harm to UK national security.
“Much of the material is encrypted. However, among the unencrypted documents … was a piece of paper that included the password for decrypting one of the encrypted files on the external hard drive recovered from the claimant.
“The fact that … the claimant was carrying on his person a handwritten piece of paper containing the password for one of the encrypted files … is a sign of very poor information security practice.”
He added: “Even if the claimant were to undertake not to publish or disclose the information that has been detained, the claimant and his associates have demonstrated very poor judgement in their security arrangements with respect to the material rendering the appropriation of the material, or at least access to it by other, non-State actors, a real possibility.”
Robbins also said that the government must assume at this point that copies of Snowden’s files are “now in the hands of foreign governments” since the former NSA contractor’s travel abroad.
The materials seized from Miranda are also said to have contained information that “could put the lives of British intelligence agents or their families at risk.”
— Louise Mensch (@LouiseMensch) August 30, 2013
This again highlights that Snowden’s files contained information on foreign intelligence operations and goes beyond the purpose of exposing NSA activities that jeopardize the privacy of Americans.
Guardian editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger defended the outlet, stating that it has taken care with the information it has published so far, according to The Telegraph.
“The Guardian took every decision on what to publish very slowly and very carefully and when we met with government officials in July they acknowledged that we had displayed a ‘responsible’ attitude.
“The government’s behaviour does not match their rhetoric in trying to justify and exploit this dismaying blurring of terrorism and journalism.”
A full hearing will occur in October.