Monday, November 04, 2013

Its official

Leaking is now "terrorism", according to the British establishment:

The detention of the partner of a former Guardian journalist has triggered fresh concerns after it emerged that a key reason cited by police for holding him under terrorism powers was the belief that he was promoting a "political or ideological cause".


"We assess that Miranda is knowingly carrying material, the release of which would endanger people's lives. Additionally the disclosure or threat of disclosure is designed to influence a government, and is made for the purpose of promoting a political or ideological cause. This therefore falls within the definition of terrorism and as such we request that the subject is examined under schedule 7."

When western countries enacted anti-terrorism statutes with this language civil libertarians warned them that they would be abused. Miranda's case is perfect proof of how easy it is: leaking so that governments can be held to account by their voters becomes an act of terrorism - because the government claims that the leak could "endanger lives" (but whose, or how, is a secret, so it can never be tested or verified), and because it sees such accountability as "compulsion" and commitment to democratic values as an "ideological cause". And when put like that, it says an awful lot about the values of the UK's rulers and the contempt they have for both their citizens and democracy.

And lest anyone think we're immune: we have exactly the same definition of terrorism here, and a penalty of life imprisonment for committing a "terrorist act". I would like to think that such a case would be laughed out of court by the judiciary. But I'd rather not take that chance. Our anti-terrorism laws are an abuse waiting to happen. We should end the madness and repeal them.